December 20 marks 145 years since the birth of the founder of Mykolaiv Zoo Mykola Pavlovych Leontovych. Decades ago, no one remembered the name, but now everyone who visits the zoo can learn about the fate of the founder during the tour, see the granite bas-relief, today many city media covered this date.
Mykola Pavlovych Leontovych, the mayor of Mykolaiv in 1909-1917, the founder of Mykolaiv Zoo, was born on December 20, 1876 in Yelysavetgrad (now Kropyvnytskyi).
Mykola Pavlovych studied at the Imperial School of Law in St. Petersburg and Odessa. From 1901 he lived in Mykolaiv. Since 1906 – the deputy mayor, since 1908 – the acting mayor of Mykolaiv. On April 8, 1909 he was elected to be the mayor for 4 years. He was re-elected mayor until 1917.
For 10 years on a post of the mayor Leontovych did a lot for Mykolaiv: during this period in Mykolaiv were opened two museums, the first cinema, the first psychiatric hospital and the first tram was started. Under the personal guidance of the mayor, the laying of water supply and sewerage was completed and we still use the storm drain that was made those times. Besides, the local power station expanded from 127 volts to 220, streets of the center of Mykolaiv were paved, the first embankment was opened. The belfry of the Kasper Church was built at Leontovych's personal expense. This list can be continued, but, of course, one of the main achievements of Mykola Leontovych was the creation of an aquarium and a zoo in the city.
In his own house he arranged a collection of aquariums – "Aquarium". Aquariums were equipped with the latest technology of the time: they had electric compressors, heaters. The fish were housed in 75 aquariums. The collection included more than 50 species of fish and amphibians, more than 1,000 specimens. On April 26, 1901, the collection was opened for free access.
After the revolution, Leontovych's Aquarium was nationalized, and Mykola Pavlovych became the director of Mykolaiv State Aquarium-Zoological Garden. In this position he worked for many years and continued to develop the Aquarium-Zoological Garden.
The further fate of Mykola Pavlovych Leontovych was tragic. On July 28, 1937, he was arrested on a number of charges: anti-Soviet propaganda, counterrevolutionary officer conspiracy, and others. After his arrest, his family and friends renounced him. Leontovych was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Date and place of his death is unknown…
…The name of Mykola Leontovych was forgotten for many years. Now the area near the entrance to the zoo is named after him, and a monument has been erected there. Books about the life and work of Mykola Pavlovych are published. We recently mentioned a collected volume published in 2006, which includes an article by Volodymyr Topchy "My Leontovych" and a play by Mykola Troyanov "Breakfast at the Mayor's". In 2019, an album of photographs and documents was published, a significant part of which consists of documents about the activities of Mykola Pavlovych Leontovych.
And Mykolaiv Zoo, his life’s work, continues to live and actively develop!