The Postojna Cave, considered to be the most famous tourist cave in the world, the largest tourist attraction in Slovenia and one of the most important Karst monuments in the world, has recorded several important events this year. After recording the 35th-million visitor this summer, an extraordinary event happened in the Postojna Cave for the first time in history – the proteus in the Postojna Cave hatched eggs. Namely, one of the proteus` in the Postojna Cave aquarium began to hatch eggs in mid-August, during the peak of the tourist season.
During the event, the aquarium in the Postojna Cave
was darkened and protected so that the proteus would have a peaceful and least stressful environment – moreover, a special barrier was created inside the aquarium in order to physically protect this special proteus from other specimens that might otherwise endanger the hatching. The event, monitored by mag. Slavko Polak and Gregor Aljančič, was recorded by Ciril Mlinar who has been, so far, the only person to record a gestating proteus in nature.
The proteus is a symbol of the Slovenian natural heritage. It is considered to be the most famous cave animal in the world, also being the largest of all such animals, with its 25-30 centimetres, and the only vertebrate in Europe completely bound to the underground world. The excitement of the scientists and the wider public over this inhabitant of the Slovenian underground has lasted since its discovery – J.V.Valvasor wrote about this `dragon baby` in Slava Vojvodine Kranjske in 1689.
Due to the proteus and other rare cave inhabitants, the Postojna Cave is one of the cradles of speleobiology as a science discipline – the image of the proteus strongly contributes to the recognisability of the Postojna Cave. The Proteus Cave – Vivarium is located directly at the entrance to the Postojna Cave in the Shaft of new signatures; its predecessor, the Speleobiology Station was formed in the 1930s.