In a 15 ha (37 acres) park planted with trees, at the heart of the Bois de Vincennes (Vincennes wood), the Paris zoo is one of France's best-known zoos. It offers the visitor a welcome change of scenery and the chance to get close to almost 500 animals.
During the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, a small temporary zoo was installed in the Bois de Vincennes so that the Parisian public could discover exotic animals. Such was the success that the Museum and the city of Paris worked together to create today's zoo on 15 hectares (37 acres) of land. Inaugurated in 1934, the zoo is built based on the innovative model of the Hamburg zoo: the absence of grills and barriers gives the public the feeling of being close to the animals in a more natural environment, whilst the technical equipment and the animals' shelters are concealed in the false rockery.
- Numerous places of discovery
This site, whose stars are the elephants, giraffes, hippopotami and baboons, comprises several themes to stimulate knowledge and curiosity: it's a stroll in the open air, amongst inhabited small islands, but it's also the exploration of interior areas such as the birds gallery or the Nocturama, plunged into darkness where the nocturnal lemurs live. And you shouldn't forget to visit the Grand Rocher (Great Rock), a monumental promontory which is 65 m (214 ft) high and offers a panoramic view of the park and a part of the capital. Over 130 people work at the site, including 30 wardens and cashiers, 13 gardeners, 2 vets, 45 keepers, 13 specialist employees, 3 biologists etc.
- Animals in the diversity of their habitats
Today, the zoo has taken a new direction. It's now a player in nature conservation and is no longer content with just displaying living animals to the public. The zoo considers the animal to be an ambassador of biodiversity. Richly-planted decor, landscaped enclosures, frescoes and educational signs invite the visitor to plunge into the centre of the animal?s natural environment.
THE GRAND ROCHER
65 m (214 ft) high, the Grand Rocher (Great Rock) is a false rock and real water tower. It is an astonishing reinforced concrete construction that overlooks the capital. The visitor can climb it, but from the inside
- An architectural challenge
Built between 1932 and 1934 by the architect Charles Letrosne, the Grand Rocher remains an unusual achievement by virtue of its architecture and construction techniques. It was quite an audacious feat in 1932 to build an edifice with a reinforced concrete framework to eliminate the need for struts (diagonal supporting beams) and resist the effects of expansion. Another original feature : the architect decided to cover the building with a 5 cm (2 in) thick concrete skin which was sculpted and painted to create the illusion of natural rock !
- A water supply for the animals
The Grand Rocher also had a functional role to play. At the time of its conception, the quality of the water from the city of Paris was not fit for animal consumption so the zoo decided to bore its own well and needed to find a means of storing the water retrieved from the well. Two large reservoirs were therefore integrated into the project: one holding 1,300 m3 (46,000 cu. ft), the other 800 m3 (28,000 cu. ft).
Deteriorating through its exposure to the elements and having become dangerous for the visitors who visited its two panoramic terraces, the Grand Rocher was closed to the public in 1982. Its renovation "to its original state" began in 1994. In March 1997, it opened its doors once again, inaugurated by the ministers for National Education, Research and the Environment as well as the Mayor of Paris.
The entire casing was pulled off, the rocky walls reinforced and each element faithfully reconstructed. At the same time, numerous improvements were made for the animals' and visitors' well-being, as well as for the functioning of the zoo: a gazebo halfway up the rock, a lift or, for the courageous, a stairway with 352 steps. Once inside the belly of the rock, the path alternates interior and exterior passages: the visitor will be able to see the vultures' aviary, the goats scaling its concrete sides, the otters at play in the huge glazed pool. A superb view awaits the visitor at the summit, which extends over the whole zoo, the Bois de Vincennes and in the distance, Montmartre and the Eiffel tower
Stroll along the paths, have a close look at the enclosures, and you will make the acquaintance of the thousand animals who live and reproduce in the zoo.
A real insight into biodiversity is what awaits the visitor who strolls along under the trees of the Bois de Vincennes. On the lemur islands, magnificent and extremely rare primates move from tree to tree, around a waterfall. Over by the monkeys, there's always something happening: some fifty baboons and twenty macaques play, dote on their children, scream and eat noisily, without worrying in the least about their neighbours, whereas the big cats pace up and down at the foot of the Grand Rocher…
- … many of which are endangered
This is the only French zoo able to present okapis, small hairy armadillos, or the black spider monkeys. The majority of the 130 species of mammals and birds are endangered in their natural habitats. All of these animals devour hundreds of tons of food each year: 660 tonnes (650 tons) of fodder, 120 tonnes (118 tons) of cereals, 35 tonnes (34 tons) of meat and almost as much fish, 3,700 chicken and 9,500 eggs !
- Our objectives: conservation here and reintroduction elsewhere
The zoo continues its work to keep animals in their environmental domains. The new spaces illustrate the efforts made: the gallery for the amphibian hippopotami, warm and humid, a real little piece of Africa in Paris, or the sifakière, a vast aviary which, in a recreated natural environment, houses three species of Madagascan lemurs including the rare crowned sifaka. The zoo also participates in numerous conservation programmes in situ, in the wild, in other words. For example, the zoo notably collaborates regularly in the efforts to reintroduce extremely rare antelopes to Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal
Open every sunday from 09:00 to 18:00
Open every holiday from 09:00 to 18:00
Open every day from 09:00 to 18:00
53, avenue de Saint-Maurice 75012 Paris
Lignes 46, 86 et 325
Metro, RER :
M8 : Porte dorée