A Drink on the Wild Side

The Claws Come Out at Krakora Bar

By Lexi St. John

A muscular figure stirs in the darkness, making just enough noise, allowing me to sense his presence. His bright blue eyes penetrate my flesh as he watches me from only an arm’s length away. Everything falls silent as we play a passionate game of cat and mouse. Should I let him catch his prey? He advances, slowly creeping up to my side as my heart flutters uncontrollably, pulsating through my body. He gets closer, so close that I can almost feel his soft body weaving through my legs. He’s in the right position now, he’s just about to pounce when – clunk. “Here’s your Pilsner!” I never thought in a million years that I would then and there have a beer with a wild animal at Prague’s secret nightlife zoo.

Krakora bar and restaurant is your average hang out spot with an extra main attraction: live pumas. In the heart of the Vinohrady neighborhood , Krakora allows its customers to enjoy a few beers and food in the company of two very large wild cats. From the outside, you can barely tell it’s a bar let alone a cougar sanctuary. Yeah, the real cougars. Not the kind you find preying on strapping young men. However, this place is full of locals who’ve word-of-mouthed the bar and its exotic cats to popularity.

Patrons of Krakora enjoy their grub in the company of cats.Photo courtesy of www.krakora.net

Patrons of Krakora enjoy their grub in the company of cats.
Photo courtesy of http://www.krakora.net

Once entering, a set of winding stairs brings you down to the main room, where a small exposed brick bar sits on the left and a foosball table to the right. Long benched wooden tables are scattered under vintage Jameson posters, a framed picture of a smiling puma, and a set of dangling handcuffs. Through a set of double doors is a beer garden and smoking area enclosed in a windowed structure for the winter months. The menu isn’t gourmet, but its range from “Barbecue pork with mustard sauce and mashes potatoes” (189 crowns, or $9) to “Nachos with avocado dip and sour cream” (89 crowns) will keep its patrons returning for more.

But ordering the barbeque pork might attract some furry predators. The pumas are held in a large enclosure right outside the backdoor of the beer garden. It’s a very large and fancy cage, with water features, branches, and plants to keep the cats entertained. But the pumas aren’t just pushed to the side. Their enclosure has an extra passageway that circles above and around the beer garden, allowing the cats to interact with customers. But interaction is limited to looking for the customer and cat’s safety. So whether you’re seeking a fun drinking game with large cats, or an intense stare down over some red meat, Krakora is the place for you.

One might think that the owner of a bar with wild cats would have tattoos and ride a badass motorcycle. But Tereza Raskova is anything but. This petit blonde woman opened the Krakora Bar eight years ago and has been managing it ever since. Spotting the pumas for the first time is a bit frightening. However, Tereza’s soft voice and welcoming smile melt your heart, causing you too to fall in love with the cats. She truly cares about the cats like they are her family, and wants them to have a good life.

“They are so well trained, that they even sleep
in the bed with Tereza at night.”

“I had cats all my life. First I had small cats, a little bit more wild, and then I had pumas. When I first got cats, I wanted to breed Serval cats with Bengal cats, but we lost our Bengal cat, so that’s why we decided to get pumas.” Tereza loves her pumas, treating them like pets by taking them out for walks on a leash around her home or neighboring tennis court. They also enjoy climbing trees and play in the snow. They are so well trained, that they even sleep in the bed with Tereza at night.

However, it’s not as simple as it sounds to keep a dangerous pet in a social environment. The pumas only allow their owners to touch them, but they are playful with customers from afar. I witnessed the two cats roughhousing, which was wildly entertaining for me as well as the rest of the crowd. But the sheer power of these animals can raise some red flags to some bar-goers. Krakora Bar requires special regulations and paperwork to keep the pumas in their enclosure next to the beer garden.

“We needed some permissions here, and people come regularly to check up on the cats, especially to see if they’ve had anything to drink!” she said as she chuckles. “We have special permission for dangerous animals,” she said referring to government regulatory bodies.

The pumas make for playful bar companions.Photo courtesy of www.krakora.net

The pumas make for playful bar companions.
Photo courtesy of http://www.krakora.net

And the customers love the danger. The pumas attract business, especially from the Prague School of Economics up the street and neighboring dormitories. Young students often visit initially due their own curiosity, but many soon make Krakora bar and restaurant their regular happy hour hang spot. Each Thursday, a CouchSurfers group that creates a community for travelers with fun events even comes to the bar to meet and socialize.

Krakora bar is a wonderful experience if you’re looking for a wild night. I got so up close and personal with the cats that even through the bars I could smell their stinky animal breath. The pumas will always keep you on the edge of your seat, because even though you’re not on their menu, they’ll still want your plate. Sink your teeth into that.

Krakora is located at Kuneticka 2, Praha 2, Vinohrady.
http://www.krakora.net

Lexi St. John is in the NYU Gallatin class of 2015. Her hometown is Los Angeles, California.

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Categories: Fall 2013 Issue Number 3

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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