Once upon a time in Bohemia, there lived a Nutria called Andre. He was the biggest, cutest, hairiest Nutria in all of Crystal Valley, and every day he liked to visit the Preciosa factory. Unlike most visitors to the Preciosa factory however, he wasn’t interested in the crystals. He came instead because he had a special friend called Honza who worked on the factory gates. Honza liked Andre so much that he would often share his lunch with him, and over time, Andre became a favorite member of the Preciosa family. Yes… Preciosa has a pet nutria. Almost. Also known as a coypu or ‘water rat’, the nutria is a large, semi-aquatic rodent that can generally be found in freshwater marshes and wetlands. It just so happens that Preciosa factory number 17 was built very close to the wetlands of Jablonne, an area that was revitalized in the early 2000s by the charity Čmelák (Bumblebee), an NGO group whose core mission is ‘to promote a sustainable lifestyle and create a harmonic human-nature relationship, leading by example in specific natural locations’. The wetlands are now a protected area and considered one of the most valuable nature reserves in the Czech Republic, home not only to Nutrias but also to some of the most endangered flora and fauna species in the country.
The factory was initially built in this location in order to take advantage of the groundwater for cooling. There is an industrial wastewater treatment plant onsite; the cleaned water is discharged into a stream that passes through the factory. This stream is called “Iron stream” and it continues by the Wetlands. Taking care of the surrounding environment is an extremely high priority for Preciosa. Not only do we strive to recycle or reuse around 80% of the water necesary for our production process, but the water that is eventually flushed into the stream is so thoroughly cleaned that it is of a similar quality to regular drinking water. In other words, it is arguably cleaner than the water already in the stream! The factory is approximately 800 m downstream from the wetlands where it is believed Andre lives; he comes regularly to our gates to ask for some attention. He is particularly popular among business visitors to the factory; often he is the very first thing a visitor sees upon arrival. Probably not quite what they were expecting in most cases! Nutrias are native to South America, but were introduced to the Czech Republic in the 1950s for their fur. At the time of writing, Andre has been visiting our factory for more than two years. His favorite foods are fruit, carrots and bread. For more information on Čmelák and the wetlands of Jablonne, visit http://www.mokradyjablonne.cz/english