Resigned Bratislava Zoo director returns after citizenship debacle

Bratislava councillors reappointed Júlia Hanuliaková to the post in February, despite criticism.

Júlia Hanuliaková has big development plans with Bratislava Zoo.Júlia Hanuliaková has big development plans with Bratislava Zoo. (Source: SME/Marko Erd)

Architect Júlia Hanuliaková, who resigned as director of Bratislava Zoo in the early summer of last year, is returning to the helm of the zoological garden.

She took up the job in November 2020 but was forced to step down after several months due to a citizenship issue. Hanuliaková obtained US citizenship while living in America and, automatically, lost her Slovak citizenship.

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Holding Slovak citizenship is one of the conditions to become a public zoo director in the country. The city was not aware at first of her citizenship problem, nor was she.

Read also: Júlia Hanuliaková: From campaigner against animal captivity to zoo director Read more 

Following recent changes to the Citizenship Act, the city fulfilled its promise to Hanuliaková that she would be reinstalled to the post once the issue was resolved.

Starting in March

“Hanuliaková’s Slovak citizenship has been renewed,” Dagmar Schmucková, a spokesperson for Bratislava, told the TASR newswire.

She will thus replace Tomáš Hulík, who was commissioned to manage the zoo until her return, on the first day of March.

Bratislava councillors approved the change in late February, despite an open letter written by zoo employees who expressed their worry over Hanuliaková’s return.

Hanuliaková’s temporary post

During the February session, several councillors criticised the city for not announcing a new selection procedure for the post of zoo director.

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Read also: ‘Unprecedented’ Bratislava zoo set for overhaul as new boss takes the reins Read more 

Old Town Mayor Zuzana Aufrichtová pointed out that Hanuliaková had terminated several contracts without notifying the city. She added the legality of her actions might, moreover, be questioned because she did not hold Slovak citizenship while in office.

After Hanuliaková resigned, the city tailored a new post for her at the Bratislava City Hall, Aufrichtová went on to say. There, she has worked as a project manager for the zoo.

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