It might come as surprise to many that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has never been completely devoid of life. Wild animals and humans carried on with their affairs even after the accident. Their jobs included the removal of contaminated dust covering buildings and vegetation. Scientists and army forces would stay in the Zone to supervise the aftermath, and even the workers of the remaining three reactors of the power plant kept caring on their tasks, maintaining the powerplant operational until its final shutdown in December 2000.
These persons were even able to enjoy, among other facilities, the olympic size swimming pool of Pripyat, which was kept fully operational until 1996, 10 years after the accident. Electricity, food, water and heating, everything was provided to the ones who wish to go there after a day of work. The photo above shows how the swimming pool building looked like ca. 25 years after the accident, a view certainly much different than that from 1996:
(image licensed under creative commons)