The Municipality of Kranj, in cooperation with the Kranj Tourism and Culture Board and the Tular Cave Laboratory, has opened the SOS Proteus Information Centre in the tunnels under the old town of Kranj to the public. It is the world’s first information centre with black and white cave salamanders. Its mission is to raise people’s awareness about the life of these olms and the importance of the underground water where they live – the main source of drinking water in Slovenia. All proceeds from the tickets go towards the operation of the cave laboratory, research, protection and awareness-raising.
Did you know that Kranj hass one of only two cave laboratories with cave olms in the world? It was set up by the biologist Marko Aljančič in 1960 in a small cave called Tular underneath the old city centre. Gregor Aljančič followed in his father’s footsteps and continued the story in the laboratory. This year, he has taken it even further by working with the Municipality of Kranj in the form of a public-private partnership. Together, they have created the SOS Proteus Information Centre. The research part will continue to take place in the Tular Cave, and the Information Centre will educate visitors about the life, importance and conservation of the cave salamanders and will also give people the chance to see both white and black salamanders in the aquariums. The information centre in the tunnels under the old town of Kranj was visited by the media today and will be opened to the public in December by the Kranj Tourism and Culture Board (ZTKK). The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is the honorary patron of the opening.
The Municipality of Kranj, in cooperation with the Kranj Tourism and Culture Board and the Tular Cave Laboratory Institute, opened the world’s first information centre with white and black cave salamanders.
Matjaž Rakovec, Mayor of Kranj: “The opening of the SOS Proteus Information Centre is a big step for Kranj, for Slovenia, and for the world, for cave salamander research and climate neutrality. Here, we are combining the good with the useful and presenting a story through which we will support research on olms in the form of a public-private partnership between the Municipality and the Tular Cave Laboratory Institute. At the same time, we have gained a new opportunity to raise people’s awareness of the importance of the olm and the importance of preserving its habitat – the groundwater. With this project, the Municipality is further committing to sustainable practices, which we are implementing and that have been recognised by the European Commission on several occasions – just yesterday, Kranj was awarded the outstanding title of European Destination of Excellence in Brussels, which is a great honour, but also a responsibility for our further work.”
Klemen Malovrh, Director of Tourism and Culture Board: “With the opening of the SOS Proteus Info Centre, Kranj certainly get a most attractive experience for tourists, which is unique on a global scale. An experience that is enhanced with educational, research and sustainable content makes Kranj more interesting for both local and foreign visitors. As the only place to see live olms as a tourist in Slovenia is the Postojna Cave, I believe that this will be a strong enough reason for tourists to visit. The Kranj Tourism and Culture Board is participating in the project as an investor, as manager of the tunnels under the old town of Kranj and the promoter of this novelty. We are proud to be part of such a great story.”
Gregor Aljančič, Head of the Tular Cave Laboratory: “The idea is more than 20 years old, and my father, Marko Aljančič, who was also the founder of the Tular Cave Laboratory, has been thinking about it for a long time. However, it is only now that we have found the right chance to get a partner in the municipality, who has offered to work with us both in terms of ideas and financial support. The main purpose of the SOS Proteus Info Centre is education and research. By presenting the living story of the olms, the centre can become a symbol of the protection of cave biodiversity and drinking water. This product is based on nature conservation and we also wish to have visitors who follow sustainable orientations, are curious and want to learn something new.”
At the information centre, visitors can learn about the life, importance and conservation of the cave salamanders and see them – both black and white olms – in the aquariums.