October 23, 2018

Simona Kossak: The Extraordinary Life of a Zoo-Psychologist

Born 1943 in Kraków, Simona Kossak was a Polish biologist, professor of forestry sciences, science populariser. Known primarily for its activity to preserve the remains of natural ecosystems in Poland. While working in science, she dealt with, among others, behavioral ecology of mammals. She sometimes referred to herself as the 'zoo-psychologist'.
“They called her a witch, because she chatted with animals and owned a terrorist-crow, who stole gold and attacked bicycle riders.”
Simona Kossak with the life in the middle of the Białowieża Forest

Kossak spent more than 30 years in a wooden hut in the Białowieża Forest, without electricity or access to running water. A lynx slept in her bed, and a tamed boar lived under the same roof with her. She was a scientist, ecologist and the author of award-winning films, as well as radio broadcasts. She was also an activist who fought for the protection of Europe’s oldest forest. Simona believed that one ought to live simply, and close to nature. Among animals she found that which she never found with humans.

The great-granddaughter of Juliusz Kossak, granddaughter of Wojciech Kossak, and the daughter of Jerzy Kossak – three painters who loved both Polish landscapes and history. A niece of Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska and Magdalena Samozwaniec. She was meant to be a son and the fourth Kossak – carrying easels and her famous surname just like her ancestors. Instead, she chose a path of her own.

Kossak died in 2007 at a hospital in Białystok after a serious illness, aged 64.

For over 30 years, Simona lived in the hut in the middle of the Białowieża Forest

Simona decorated the interiors of the Dziedzinka den Simona with souvenirs from the familial Kossakówka

A phenomenon advancing on the 'mosquito,' aka Simona Kossak on her way to the Dziedzinka hut

A common meal in the company of a particular household member. Simona with the sow Żabka

Simona with the crow Korasek, who would steal gold and attack bicycle riders

Elżbieta Kossak, the mother of Simona, liked the life in Dziedzinka. For two years, she travelled between Kraków and Białowieża

 Simona with a pack of deer

For the animals, she was like a mother. Simona with the twin moose, whom she called Cola and Pepsi

Simona with the female lynx Agata, kept for the film by Jan Walencik

(Photos by Lech Wilczek)




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