8:15 pm, September 24, 2022
Ben has been depressed since the death of his partner, Jenny, in 2018. But a new congener has been with him for a few weeks: 9-year-old Moyo, who arrived from the Magdeburg zoo in Germany. They seem to get along well. On this September morning, two elephants walk side by side in their enclosure at ZooSafari in Thoiry, in Yvelines. The eldest, aged 42, doesn’t mind when his young roommate takes up some space. He lifted his trunk slightly to the side, telling her to move away. Moyo followed.
By December, a third male will join them, from Boras zoo in Sweden. Moyo is the same age as him. ” These two big teenagers will be able to play together and test their limits with Ben“, explains Christophe Grossiord, the curator of the animals. Satisfied visitors watch them by car from the road that surrounds their 1-hectare territory, which pales in comparison to the African savannah. But this perimeter remains 15 times larger than the minimum 1,000 square meters required per animal by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). From October, a more spacious enclosure, of 3 hectares, will be built for them. The three pachyderms will live there next summer in the company of warthogs and antelopes. The 31 million euro project includes the construction of lodges with a view of their enclosure.
In the crosshairs of animal rights activists
Ben and Moyo stand out as the only two elephants living on Ile-de-France soil. Because of Vincennes (12th), the zoological park of Paris does not have any, due to lack of space. But are these pachyderms really that far from their original bush? “Ben was rescued after being abused in a circus, while Moyo was born in captivityexplained Christelle Bercheny, CEO of Thoiry. “Our mission is to preserve the DNA of this African species, threatened by poachers in its native lands.»
These arguments did not convince the Paris Animals Zoopolis association, which was created in 2017.We are against the captivity of animals and their being an entertainment attraction“, denounced Amandine Sanvisens, co-founder. After protesting this summer in front of public gardens against pony rides “like toys“, the activists will demonstrate next Sunday in front of the Animal Expo, the pet show, in the floral park (12th).
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In their line of sight is also the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes (5th), the oldest zoo in France – founded in 1794 – and one of the oldest in the world. In 2020, Danielle Simonnet, then municipal councilor (LFI) on the 20th, sent their request for closure to the Paris Council. It was rejected. “It takes a change of perspective in their operation to make a profit“, declaration of the elected, representative of the 15th district of Paris and co-rapporteur of the commission for the application of the law on November 30, 2021 against the mistreatment of animals. Proof that things are changing, Christophe Najdovski, ecologist assistant to Anne Hidalgo, has included animal conditions in his delegations since the new term. “The challenge is to invent new ways to create interaction with animals in good conditions.he explains,the traditional model of zoos seems outdated to me; this too often leads to the confinement of animals in undignified conditions.»
Major menagerie works in 2023
The outdated appearance of the menagerie may, in fact, be against it. Specifically the building of monkeys built in 1936, where the orangutan Nénette, born in Borneo at the age of fifty, serves her tea every afternoon…”If many enclosures are grown and planted, this space remains our black area», Acknowledging Michel Saint Jalme, the director. The main renovation work, with a budget of 3 million euros, will begin in early 2023. So, in early 2024, visitors will be able to contemplate through the large window, gibbons and macaques jumping from one footbridge to another under 15 meters high. aviary. The area, 600 square meters on the ground, will be bathed in light.
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Then comes the turn of the reptile pavilion. Closed in 2019, it will undergo a complete renovation for 2025, which will cost 12 million euros. “An immersive journey will invite the visitor to put themselves in the shoes of a snake or a lizard, to see or hear like them, announced the director. This contact trains young people living in the city to respect the living environment more.And for this doctor in biology, the role played by the conservation of all biodiversity remains even more important in the era of global warming, which reduces species.