Our History

When talking about the history of the Budakeszi Wildlife Park, we have to go back to as early as the beginning of the 1970s.  The public could learn about the new uses of forests – using forests for public welfare – on the occasion of the resolution of the World Forestry Congress, held in Buenos Aires in 1972, which was adopted and later popularized and developed at Hungary’s proposal.

On the present site of the Wildlife Park – then known as Vörös-hegy (Red Mountain) – the restoration of the old woodlands had been finished by the 1960s, and oaky-mixed forest could evolve. Mining activity stopped near the popular tourist destination in 1974, and the necessary remediation made it possible to use the site for different purposes.  The implementation and development plans were created by 1976, which aimed to create a walkable park that can present domestic species of small and big games in their natural surroundings. A 6,2km long footpath, 7 rainproof huts, 6 resting places and 13 fireplaces were created.

The Budakeszi Wildlife Park, comprising 20 hectares opened its gates to the public on 29th April, 1972.  The Park – founded by the legal predecessor of the Pilis Park Forestry Ltd. – is committed to present animals – native to Europe or introduced to the Carpathian basin- in their natural habitat. Visitors can see big games – including red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, mouflons, wild boars – walk freely in the Big Game Reserve surrounding the Wildlife Park.

The enclosures built in 1980 housed small game species – foxes, species of forest and grassland birds. The main entrance with the life-size stag statue, the totem poles and the asphalting of the access road were finished in the same year.  As early as in the 80s, the Wildlife Park took part in youth education, as Birds and Trees Day was celebrated there every year. During this period the number of big game specimens stabilized – 40-50 red deer, 20-30 fallow deer, 20-25 roe deer, a few mouflons and 200 wild boars inhabited the area. The introduction of new species made the park even more attractive. With the Zoo’s assistance, Barbary sheep and a sika deer family moved to the exhibits, and Scottish red deer were brought to the 14-hectare enclosure, set up in the outer parts of the Western part of the area. In 1985, the access road was thoroughly asphalted providing an easy access to the Park regardless of weather conditions. At the end of the road a new entrance was constructed, worthy of the place and the big number of visitors, with a life-size bronze stag statue and totem poles displaying symbols from nature on both sides.  In 1988, the construction of the 12-meter tall lookout and the domes presenting small game species were finished, as well as the log castle in the Elm Glade. The Wildlife Park received landline telephone service in the same year.

In 1992, the Budapest Forestry Company took over the Wildlife Park and integrated the management of the Park into its activity without difficulty, thanks to its work and experience in public welfare. Their main focus has been placed on providing various services for youth visitors. Development was interrupted by an unfortunate event in 1995: the reception building, no more than 10 years old, was destroyed in a fire. Donations from several places enabled the almost immediate reconstruction, as well as the expansion of the Wildlife Park with manual warehouses, offices and education rooms, creating space for events and education. Organized reception of students relocated from a converted sawmill in Virág-völgy in Budakeszi to the Wildlife Park base.

Budgetary resources for development and operation were gradually decreasing during the 1990s; operational needs were met by ad-hoc aids granted by the Capital Municipality and the Asset Management. From 1998, the list of species on display was continuously expanding; two black buffalos arrived in the exhibits (later replaced by European bison) under an exchange programme, together with Eurasian wolves and lynxes. Between 1996 and 2000, renovation of big game pens and the construction of two additional showcase exhibits took place.  The farmyard was being built step by step along the reception park, where visitors could meet goats, sheep, grey cattle and the assistants of the keepers: herding dogs and draft donkeys. Following the decision by the economic management the Park Forestry continued to work as a public benefit company.

The last years of the millennium were the years of intensive development. In 2001, the walks of the big game showcase enclosures and the feeders in the pens were renovated, the drainage system was installed.  In order to provide quality storage for roughages storage buildings with shingled roofs were set up next to the pens. In 2003 new outdoor enclosures were built – a glass-walled showcase block for rabbits and hares and an aviary for birds of prey. The renovation of the log fence and the electricity network was completed in the same year.  The 13 additional fireplaces in the former mine-hole and the renovation of the sanitary unit of the reception park also enhanced visitor comfort. The aviary for singing birds was built in 2004, the presentation of storks, mallards, owls and kestrels in the bird enclosure was constantly provided.  Foxes, ferrets, beech martens, badgers, raccoon and raccoon dogs arrived in the mammal unit. Next year saw the renovation of the lookout tower, the reception building and the entrance footpaths, followed by the maintenance and the preparatory-development work of the playground in the Elm Glade. New exhibits were built for small mammals (northern white-breasted hedgehogs, red squirrels), the installation of artificial rocks and environmental enrichment took place to improve the living space of animals.

Since 2010, the Wildlife Park has undergone a fundamental change. As a modern facility which maintains a high standard in service and facilities, the park has evolved to a family recreation centre that caters for visitors’ various needs with a variety of attractive events. The range of animals has been broadened by special species such as sika deer, aurochs, Przewalki’s horses, the bird unit has been renovated, another petting zoo has been opened to the public, and the exhibits have been refurnished. The additional interactive nature trails, thematic playground, animal information signs, education room, tree-planting activities, the distribution of nest-boxes throughout the site all aimed at promoting environmental education. New programmes were introduced, such as feeding shows, animal school, “Animals in action” shows, thematic tours, family day, volunteer’s day, celebration of memorable days,, escape games,  summer camp for children, forest school. In harmony with the park’s equal opportunities policies there are accessible toilets, a ‘mother-baby corner’ and all-terrain strollers are available for visitors with young children. In May 2015, a new thematic playground called ‘Oak nut Hideaway ‘opened its gates to young visitors, where children can learn about the forests climbing on the stylized oak nut climbing frames or the using the saw beetle swing.