Advantages you're the right side of the fences
Disadvantages for endangered species
The Lunaret Zoo is situated in the town of Montpellier, and is easy to reach by bus or tram. It doesn't resemble other zoos much for several reasons. The first thing you'll notice when you visit, is that the entrance is free. You can always donate a few euros to help out with the major animal protection programs that go on here. The second thing you'll notice is that once inside the zoo gates, you find yourself in a shady forest with a choice of paths to explore.
There is a children's playground at the entrance, a merry-go-round and an information hut, where you can pick up a map to chose which way to go around the zoo. Unlike other zoos, visitors are not all there to see the animals. Seeing as it is Montpelliers largest open green space, just 3 kilometres from the town centre, many locals come here for a stroll or a bit of jogging. There are wooden sign posts at each crossing to indicate where which animals can be found, and how to find your way out of the zoo. The thick forest, and sometimes long stretches between animal enclosures make that, out of season, you can feel completely lost before coming by the next lot of sign posts!
The zoo is spread out over 80 acres of land, it's more like a safari than a zoo really, but is strictly pedestrian. Bicycles and roller skates or skateboards are forbidden, as well as dogs and all motorised vehicles, although small children get away with little bikes if they stick with their parents. The paths are tarred, making access OK for prams, however, wheelchairs will find certain paths difficult due to their steepness.This zoo first opened its doors in 1964, and is named after the land owner of the premises, Henri de Lunaret. Later its size was increased to reach its actual size of 80 acres. There are more than 500 animals from 84 different species in this zoo, divided into 52 enclosures. In 1982, a children's farm was added, with a large farmhouse and piece of land, where children can learn about farm animals, gardening, nature in general and bees. All year around, school outings are organised here.
°º"˜¨¨˜"°º εïз °º"˜¨¨˜"°ºRecently (in June 2007) an Amazonian greenhouse opened its doors. This "serre Amazonienne" is Frances largest Amazonian greenhouse. It contains animals, 3,500 different plants species, insects and birds from the Amazon rain forest regions. Seven different climate zones have been reconstituted, with tropical storms every half hour. Here, you'll see waterfalls and even night light areas to view nocturnal life. The entrance is 5 Euros for adults, 3 Euros for children over 12, 2.50 for up to 12 year old and is free for children under 6 years old. There is wheelchair access throughout this attraction. The greenhouse takes a good 45 minutes to get around, and has a maximum capacity of 450 persons, so don't be surprised to queue in the summer season. It is open from 9am to 6pm but the ticket office closes at 5pm.
The zoo itself opens its doors at 9am, and closes at 5pm, however some animals, such as the bears in particular, are called into their shelters around 4pm, so if you go late, you may miss them. All along the forest paths, you come by life size wooden animal sculptures, which kids love climbing. Wooden tables and benches allow you to picnic, although there aren't enough for everyone in the school holiday period. To get around the whole zoo, in one day, plan to get there early, and leave late!°º"˜¨¨˜"°º εïз °º"˜¨¨˜"°º
I tend to change my route each time I go. There are 11 kilometres of paths in all directions, so even though I've already been a good dozen of times, it is each time a different experience. However, I do have my favorite animals, who I try to see each time. That said, some animals have vast overgrown enclosures, so they can easily hide from curious visitors. The lions and bears are my favorites, and when they aren't hiding, I could watch them for hours. Especially the bears!Clever zoo keepers preserve the bears from boredom by hiding food throughout their territory. Up into the trees, or buried underground, each day the bears have a treasure hunt. They have a pond which they have to cross if they want to be awarded some of the hidden goodies. Visitors have a great view point, a couple of metres above the pond, on a bridge. Same for the lions, the visitors view point, on top of the hill makes spotting the felines easier. Have you ever heard a lion roar just under you? Certainly one of the most instinctively scary experiences I've ever had!
°º"˜¨¨˜"°º εïз °º"˜¨¨˜"°ºThere is a fantastic monkey zone, which consists of lots of different types of monkeys who each have an outdoor and indoor living area, based around a building which you walk through to see their shelters through glass walls.
Throughout the zoo, you'll notice the 73 employees who take constant care of the animals. This zoo participates to the European program to save endangered species. In 2007, funds were risen for the Rhinoceros, which may one day be saved from extinction, thanks to zoos like this.Thanks for reading, it was a pleasure to write ;-)
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