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Amor and Lyala: horse love story from the Leningrad zoo


“Eternal love registration vendor” will be opened today at Dumskaya Street. Those who want to publicly register their feelings on St. Valentine’s Day will be given special diplomas. This tradition is 6 years old.


Two horses from the Leningrad zoo – Amor and Lyalya – have been there even longer than that. Their faithfulness cannot be compared to that of swans, but there are common colts and common interests. 

Both are now taking a deserved rest. Alexandra Lee had a look at how these two are spending their noble senility.

Asking the proud Amor to show a Spanish step is not easy: it’s 27 years old – a considerable age by horses’ standards. The stallion is taking a deserved rest. In the 25 years he’s been living in the zoo, it has managed to gather – speaking in human terms – quite a harem.

Amor and Bitza have a colt. The mare also has two daughters, who live and work here. It, by the way, is an aged lady too – at 23 years old.

In the past it had a side job too – at the Mariinskiy Theatre – performing the roe of Rossinanta at “Don Quixote”. Just as Amor, it spend most of her life in this zoo.

These horses have never even tried to bite or kick anyone. They have always been honest and diligent in their work, giving careful rides to kids and adults alike at the show-ring. Nowadays Bitza – or in its tender nickname Lyalya – hasn’t been saddled for a few years. The mare is enjoying a pension. 

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “Maximum load which horses here can handle is about 100 people per day. And that’s during holidays or weekends. But if a horse is on retirement, such load is completely ruled out”. 

Olga Izotova, head of stable: “Its best not to deprive a horse of communication, that’s why there’s always someone working with them, training, performing basic moves. Just as senior people need walks to keep their health in tonus, horses need to be taken out for a walk”

Bitza – who was bought from the Tzarskoselskyi sovkhoz 20 years ago is often checked. Special attention is paid to its health now. 

Lint porridge and oat seeds – such ration is necessary for horses during winter, especially in senior age. The mare used to be on a sporty schedule, now its on a sanatorium kind of life: horse pedicure, cleaning, hair-brushing – there’s even a talk of setting up a solarium soon. 

Elena Sysoeva, head vet doctor of the Leningrad Zoo: “Not only at pension time, but even in adult age, every horse needs a rest. And it is certainly given. At certain types of limping – particularly with sport horses – it may last up to a year”

Luckily, Seraya is not limping. Zoo staff are doing all they can to make every day of their senility brighter. They are sure – Bitza and Amor have lived a happy life, and now enjoying a noble pension. They deserved this good rest for their service to the people. 

Olga Izotova, head of stable: “Bitza’s wisdom came with age. And its great communicating with it. Calling her “just a co-worker” isn’t good. We are like friends”.