Croatian Photo-Herp Trip
Zagreb & Istria


Zagreb, Zagreb County

Neven had booked me into the Palace Hotel in central Zagreb. This was an impressive building with an imposing facade but due to the schedule I hardly spent any time there, apart from sleeping. We dined in the restaurant the evening I arrived but that was the last time I availed myself of such facilities, apart from a quick breakfast each morning, as there were places to go, snakes to see. I would certainly stay at the Palace Hotel again.

Palace Hotel, Zagreb - my base for the visit

We made several visits to Neven's exhibition entitled Čudesan Svijet Zmija (Magic World of Snakes). The location in a shopping mall was airy and spacious and the exhibits were well laid out and interesting. Neven told me he had been planning to put on such an exhibition for several years as there had been no such snake exhibition in Croatia before. His friends in the Minstry encouraged him to go ahead with his plans and the result was this excellent exhibition. The exhibition primarily consisted of venomous species, mostly vipers but a few mambas and cobras, but there were also a few nonvenomous species like milksnakes and pythons or boas which the handlers could use for Reptile Encounters with small groups of visitors.

Neven Vrbanic, owner and organiser of the Čudesan Svijet Zmija exhibition,
with a
Green tree python, Morelia viridis


Views around the spacious and impressive Čudesan Svijet Zmija exhibition


At the Čudesan Svijet Zmija exhibition
(l-r) Ivor, Mark, Matija and Neven
Photo: Neven Vrbanic


There were some species I took the time to photograph, notably the Berg adder (Bitis atropos) and the Namib side-winding adder (Bitis peringueyi) and all the specimens looked in very fine condition.

Mark photographing a S.African Berg adder, Bitis atropos
in the Čudesan Svijet Zmija exhibition.
Yes, the sign does say no flash photography but special dispensation was granted, and that is Neven in the background.
Photo: Neven Vrbanic


Neven and I also did interviews with NOVA TV and 24 SATA TV at the exhibition.
The 24 SATA TV interview forms part of a short clip viewable online.
Reporter Ivana Nanut and her NOVA TV crew had also joined us in the field the previous day.

Mark being interviewed by 24 SATA TV
Photo: Neven Vrbanic
Mark being interviewed by NOVA TV
reporter Ivana Nanut
Photo: Neven Vrbanic


One one evening Neven had arranged for me to give a short talk about my work and then follow up with a Question and Answer session where I answered questions with anecdotes. Several of the reptile enthusiasits present had brought along copies of my various books for me to sign.


Presenting speaking to Croatian herpetologists in the evening
Photo: Neven Vrbanic
Answering questions with anacdotes...
and signing books brought in by reptile enthusiasts



On my final day in Croatia Neven dropped me at Zagreb Zoo and Ivo showed me the native Croatian reptile collection. I was able to photograph a few species: Balkan sand lizard (Lacerta agilis bosnica), Leopard snake (Zamensis situla), Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata quatuorlineata), European catsnake (Telescopus fallas fallax), Balkan whipsnake (Hierophis gemonensis) and Balkan meadow viper (Vipera ursinii macrops). I was also able to photograph Olms (Proteus anguinus) from Gorski Kotar and Dalmatia, the last being curious yellow specimens.

Neven and Ivo and the Croatian reptiles section of Zagreb Zoo

I met up with Zagreb Zoo's Curator of Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles, Ivan Cizelj, again before I departed to meet Neven and head for the airport.