The Orangerie zoo will no longer be a zoo in September. The last wild animals still present must then have left their enclosure in the neighborhood where they were born. Like the pink flamingos, which flew away on April 29 for “another establishment” – as discreetly signaled by the panels that bloom on the gates of the deserted enclosures. Just like the two macaws, who left three days before them, as well as the four large tortoises who were the “stars of the zoo for children”, according to a caretaker from the Association des Amis du Zoo team.
If, on the side of the wildlife, it is the carnage, on the side of the five employees (three carers, a carer and a director-veterinarian), it is clearly gloomy: “We are too sad”, do not hide not one of them, struggling to contain her emotion. Hired for only three years, the two young women crossed this Thursday morning did not experience the great hours of this place which since 1903 has housed facilities and buildings assigned to a zoo. And which, since 1949, has been managed by this association, in return for an annual operating subsidy paid by the City.
Last occupants called to leave
Among the fauna that can still be “observed for free” – this was the argument of Roland Ries, the previous mayor, in order to continue his local activity despite everything -, there are still monkeys in particular. Thirteen Tonkean macaques – whose “breeding has been stopped for a long time” -, but also a pony, parakeets, two eagle owls, a couple of lemurs as well as a handful of mouflons and goats make up the bulk of the troops.
But the activity of the zoo is reduced to a trickle. “We wanted to at least accompany the animals until their end of life, they were born here and some feel really good here: we have a genet (Editor’s note: a species of spotted cat) which is 28 years old, while its duration life is on average twelve years”, says another employee.
The City has decided otherwise: a new deliberation will sign this Friday the death warrant of the zoo as such. The Association of Friends of the Zoo must therefore “collaborate in the implementation of the objectives of gradual departure of wild animals to lead to the transformation into a small educational animal park”.
“Ambivalent” feeling of walkers
The feeling, collected from the walkers met this Thursday, is “ambivalent”: “We are both sensitive to animal well-being and we appreciate the proximity, the fact of being able to almost ‘touch the finger’ of the species that we would never have seen in real life, ”supports a teacher from the Aristide-Briand high school, who came on an end-of-year outing with CAP students. Ditto for a teacher and her group of schoolchildren, from Morschwiller-le-Bas.
The fact remains that the departure of the wild animals “frees the four trainers from most of their activity”, notes the deliberation. The City will therefore support a one-off educational project (proposed by the association), until the end of the year, to “allow them to redirect their activities”. These are nine workshops led by trainers to “introduce the public to a different theme linked to the animal world and biodiversity”: such as “role and description of a feather”, “awareness of first aid injured wild animals”, “life cycle of a bird” or even “entertainment around the snack of goats, sheep and ponies”. Cost of this project: €44,858.
From the second half of 2022, for the animation of the educational animal park, “a call for projects will be launched and will be addressed to all the partners who wish to contribute to the renewal of the site”. And definitely turn the page on the zoo.
City Council Friday from 9 a.m. To follow in video and partial live on dna.fr