World’s first public exhibit of juvenile olms, mysterious underground amphibians, will open on 11 June in Slovenia’s famous Postojna Cave
I visited Postojna Cave in another life. It was mid-March – the last days before Europe went into lockdown. I went to Slovenia’s most famous cave system to witness something that might now, in the shadow of pandemic and imploding economies, seem frivolous: a sneak peek at what was to be the first public display of recently hatched olms: blind, worm-like amphibians that are one of nature’s most remarkable underground creatures. But barely had the young olms settled into their new vivarium than Postojna Cave closed to visitors for the longest time in its 200-year history.
Postojna’s 24km cave system – 50km south of the capital Ljubljana, and just a 40-minute drive from Trieste in Italy – is one of Europe’s most-visited subterranean attractions. In pre-Covid-19 years nearly a million tourists took the red-and-yellow train through its caverns into a floodlit, cathedral-size chamber – and Postojna’s most-photographed rock formation, the five-metre-tall “Brilliant” stalagmite. They would file past a tank of adult olms, with its dim red lighting to protect their photosensitive skinsand visit the world’s only underground post office, complete with its own stamp and postmark.