Norbert is a trained locksmith, but earned money way before his apprenticeship. 8-year old Norbert bought a crocodile from money he earned by selling the offspring of his gold hamsters. He and his elder brother made the breeding of animals their hobby. They were to take care of the critters and as long as their dad didn’t have to contribute money, they were allowed to do as they pleased. At the age of 13 Norbert was Germany’s youngest parakeet and parrot breeder. One year later he chose his appren- ticeship based on which time work ended. He needed to work at a place where he would be able to get out at 3:30pm so that he could take care of his animals outside before the sun went down at 4:30pm. With 15 he owned 70 aquariums and had to order fishes from Singapur to meet the demand of local pet shops. Selling animals was never in his plans and started as a necessity. If the capacities to keep the animals were exhausted, the brothers had to sell. Simple. 50 years later, it is not the capacity that serves as a reason for a sale at Norbert’s Zoo Zajac, world’s biggest pet shop. It only depends on the ability and qualification of a potential buyer to take care of an animal. Zoo Zajac is the only pet shop in Germany allowed to sell dogs besides professional dog breeders and they are taking their responsibility seriously. Every week 10 people that pull out their wallets to buy a dog at Zajac are rejected. The well-being of the animals is the number one priority. Decades ago he did expeditions to Asian jungles to gather informa- tion on a list of tropical fish species. The knowledge he came back with expanded their expected lifespan in aquariums drastically. The most expensive animal in the shop is a sloth and only one customer ever qua- lified to buy one. Only after reworking their flat on the 9th floor and being inspected by Norbert personally, a couple could buy the mammal for 16,000€. Eventually their flat looked like the human tenants were actually the ones that moved into the sloth’s compound. The job never ends with the sale. Norbert has more than 170 permanent employees, not only hired to keep the place running, but to be still of service to customers in need of help on the animals they bought. Most of the visitors don’t come around to buy animals but to wander around the zoo. Every week they come to see Norbert’s animals from all over Europe, resulting in more than 10,000 visitors every Saturday.
Der Urbanen Reiseführer für den englischsprachigen Besucher im Pott, behandelt die Städte Dortmund, Bochum, Essen und Duisburg.
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