When you have mixed up the desired sightseeing trails, splashed in the sea and dreamed of lying on the grass and creating characters from the clouds, you can turn your eyes to a special place in Lithuania – Telšias.
The famous traveler Aurimas Valujavičius visited the Telšiai regional branch of the State Forestry Office. Adventures awaited him in Ubiškės forestry “Žvērininciu” and Germants landscape reserve.
Gamekeepers in Lithuania – from the Vytautas manor to the forest office today
Everyone knows that Lithuanian grand dukes and nobles used to have their own menageries. Wild animals were kept in the fenced areas of the forests so that the nobles who were ready to hunt would be guaranteed a catch.
There is information that Vytautas had his own menagerie in Trakai, and the menagerie near Vilnius that belonged to the Radvilas still retains its name today. Historical sources testify that Žygymantas Augustas also kept a menagerie with exotic animals.
The rulers of both the LDK and other European countries kept not only the wild animals they hunted in their menageries; they also raised exotic animals such as lions or camels, which they were proud of as if they were exclusive property and gave animals to each other.
Zoos are a haven for wild animals
Today, there are also hunters in Lithuania. True, wild animals live in them without fear of hunters – they are taken care of by the employees of the State Forest Office. There are also no exotic animals here, for which Lithuania’s climate is unsuitable. Therefore, nature lovers or families with children can visit zoos and get acquainted with the beauty and diversity of Lithuanian nature.
Visitors to “Žvērinčių” of the Telšiai regional branch of the State Forest Office can spend the whole day looking at fallow deer, mouflons, deer, bison, and lynx. If you are very lucky, you can also see the great egrets that live here.
Although you can get to know wild animals in “Žvērinčiuje”, they should not be confused with zoos. The animals here do not live in cages, but in a natural environment, huge enclosures are spread over an area of up to 70 hectares, so it is not necessarily possible to see all their inhabitants at once. Especially since on a hot summer day, animals are also looking for shade, hiding in the thicket.
You should be alert, because these are wild animals
Specialist of the information center of the Telšiai regional branch of the State Forest Office Gabriele Monkevičiūtė advises to come to “Žvērinčiť” also in autumn or winter, when the leaves of the trees and bushes have fallen, so it is much more likely to see animals in the giant enclosures. And there are much fewer visitors then.
So that the visitors do not get lost in the vast areas, leaflets with diagrams indicating which enclosures and which animals live can be picked up in the “Žvėrininciu” of Ubiškės girininkija. Their descriptions are also provided.
Information center specialist G. Monkevičiūtė says that although the animals can be visited, it should be remembered that they are wild animals with their own instincts, so you should behave appropriately in “Žvērinčius”: don’t try to enter the enclosures, don’t feed, don’t scare or annoy the animals.
It is true that the inhabitants of this “Zvērinčius” are somewhat braver than their relatives in the forests, and therefore you can see them, because they see people more often – forestry workers who look after and feed them, visitors.
From “Zvėrinčius” – to freedom
Zoos, both in ancient times and now, are special in that the animals do not meet their natural enemies here. Therefore, animals rescued by humans but unable to survive in the wild live here, animals of endangered species are also cared for here.
Several years ago, a project was also implemented in Ubiškės girininkija “Žvērininkija” of the Telšiai regional unit, and lynxes and egrets that are on the verge of extinction are bred here and then released into the wild. Both species are listed in the Red Book. And both of them can also be seen here.
After a walk in “Žvērinčiuje”, visitors can continue their journey to the other most beautiful places in Žemaitija. And it’s convenient to get stronger by having a picnic right here: gazebos with tables and benches are equipped here for the convenience of visitors.
The undiscovered lake Žemaitija is where devils once lived
It is no coincidence that the most beautiful places in Lithuania are shrouded in myths and legends: people escape from everyday life in them, body and soul rest in the midst of nature. And a rested person is both more creative and healthier.
There is no shortage of visitors in the Telšiai Regional Park at all times of the year. Pedestrian and bicycle paths, a barefoot path or ski tracks in the vicinity of Germantas Lake are worth it. And where are the year-round beaches and mysterious sculptures of devils!
Chief forester of the Telšiai regional unit of the State Forestry Office Arvydas Jokuzys invites you to start getting acquainted with the nature of Žemaitija, namely in the Germantas landscape reserve, where the wonderful nature – forest, lakes, marshes – is protected.
Legends are immortalized to the delight of visitors
A. Jokužys says that after the installation of walking paths started, people still walked on them, despite the ongoing works.
“Then our contractor “Telšių meistras” tells us – you will do the devil, won’t you?”, the interviewer recalls.
That statement revived many local people’s memories: after all, the devil has been here before! And people brought in a photo taken around the 1960s of a wooden devil sculpture.
“There was no discussion about putting the devil here again. At the moment, you can see a very similar sculpture here, only made of metal”, says A. Jokužys.
As can already be deduced from the name of the Germanto landscape reserve, the largest lake lying here is Germanto. According to the legend, once upon a time the warrior Germantas, having lost his beloved, cried so much that he made the whole lake cry. Sculptures also remind visitors of this legend.
Lakes and coasts – for fans of passive recreation
Very close to this lake, in the complex of educational trails, there is another one – Ilgis lake. “After arriving at Germantas Lake, you can walk along the educational trail to Ilgis Lake, and vice versa,” explains the forester.
A. Jokužys invites you to definitely visit another nearby lake – Durbin. “It’s a very swampy, gloomy, dark, black lake – only for the devil to breed,” laughs the forester and reminds you not to forget to visit the beaches that are open all year round.
The forester says that the complex of Germantas and Ilgė lakes is intended for more passive recreation – to take a walk, hang out, fish in the lake, swing.
“Both educational trails surrounding the lakes connect – the total distance is about six kilometers. However, those who want to exercise more actively also have something to do. You can ride a bike on bike paths, there is a 12-kilometer track, you can also choose an even longer route, part of which will be asphalted, and the rest will have to be covered on a gravel road,” the interviewer says.
Enjoying nature means respecting it
“Being in nature always calms you down, you can “disconnect” from everyday life and worries,” says A. Jokužys.
However, only a clean, uncluttered environment provides good emotions. The interviewer reminds that being in nature is not enough just to not litter:
“Forest, lakeside are home to wild animals and birds. Our pets, which some people bring to nature, are predators. Any dog let loose in the forest disturbs other inhabitants of the forest – a deer, a bunny, and a bird. Therefore, after bringing a puppy into nature, it is best not to let it go, to keep it on a leash. And if we want to let them go, it is necessary to put on a muzzle, because all those little animals of forests and meadows are defenseless.”
The interviewer reminds that when you come to nature with pets, you should make sure that the pets don’t leave anything in nature: “In general, when you come to the forest, to nature, you should follow the only principle – don’t leave anything. Take out what you brought. Let’s leave it as we found it, or even better – if we’ve already found trash, let’s collect it.”
A. Jokužys regrets that some people take their grills to nature. According to him, nature and open fire are not compatible: “Fire can only be made in designated places – campfires. Sometimes people don’t even think about the fact that dropped smoke or barbecue ashes spilled over during the rain can become the cause of a big fire.”
We invite you to watch the Delfi.lt show and explore the unique places of Žemaitija together with Aurim Valujavičius: https://www.delfi.lt/uzsakomasis-turinys/aktualijos/isskirtines-zemaitijos-vietos-a-valujavicui-primine-nutikima-su-pavojingu- bird-94218993