The wild steppes of the past have the status of a biospheric preserve today. At the close of the 18 th century the virgin lands were ploughed, many plants and animals disappeared under the pressure of man’s economic activity. In the first half of the 19 th century, as a result of Russia’s colonization of newly acquired lands, a settlement appeared in the Taurian steppes, named in honor of its owner, duke Angalt-Ketensky, the count of Askania.
In 1856 the German duke sold his estate to the German merchant F. Fein. At the close of the 19 th century his descendant Friedrich Falz-Fein possessed the world’s largest preserve covering 520 hectares of steppe land. The owner brought there animals from all over the world, and it was due to him that representatives of endangered species were saved, such as Przhevalsky horse for instance.
Today there is a wonderfu zoo on the main farmstead. It consists of a poultry-yard populated by peacocks, pheasants, flamingos, bustards, storks, ostriches and other birds; and a hoofed animals department (antelopes, zebras, goats, bisons, etc.).
Families and herds of rare animals are living in the steppe. In order to see them you should orders a special excursion – on foot or by car. The staff of the Askania preserve will show you much that you have never seen before. The main farmstead also has a luxurious dendropark designed by the Frenchman Du Frain in the 1880 s.
Near the entrance towers a romantic water tower which was used for irrigation of exotic plants. A walk along the alleys of the dendropark will enable you to rest and to enjoy the intercourse with nature. The preserve has hotels and restaurants so it is advisable to order excursions and a room beforehand.