Around the World at the Doué-la-Fontaine BioPark

It is far more than just an ordinary zoo. The BioPark of Doué-la-Fontaine offers its visitors an escape to the four corners of our globe. And, whether you’re a geologist, landscape architect, photographer, parent, whatever, there will be something for you in this unique conservation park, dedicated to animals, but to human beings, too.
“What’s the connection with cave life?” I hear you ask. The answer is simple: a rock called falun.

How did a former falun rock quarry become an avant-garde BioPark?

Around the World at the Doué-la-Fontaine BioPark

The zoo founded in 1961 by Louis Gay has now expanded its mission to include natural history, conservation activism, botanical gardens and a public education component, and for this reason has been renamed a BioPark. The site consists of former falun quarries. This troglo essence is everywhere in evidence as you wend your way through the quarries, which had been abandoned a few years before the creation of the zoo. Naturally, it was necessary to reconvert and revamp some areas, like the aviaries or the vast Rhinoceros Valley. You plunge into the falun in a partly underground labyrinth with tunnels and waterfalls.

I had the sensation of being in darkest Africa, or the Grand Canyon – while not nine miles from Saumur. Each space has been conceived with an eye to an appropriate setting for the animals.

From diamond-in-the-rough to full-fledged BioPark

Around the World at the Doué-la-Fontaine BioPark

No more the zoo of yesteryear, a mere animal repository designed for voyeuristic visitors. Here the lion is but a king among kings. Working to maintain the world’s biodiversity, the “zoo,” under its three successive directors, Louis, Pierre and François Gay, became deeply involved in the protection of endangered species in their natural habitat. It has become a BioPark, supporting nature projects: preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems. Under Pierre’s active guidance, the BioPark supports organizations abroad that are working to conserve the integrity and the diversity of nature. It is actively involved, for example, in Niger, in Madagascar, in Peru…The resulting interconnection of organizations forms an effective means of saving threatened species like hyacinth macaws, flamingoes from Chile and parrots from Patagonia… So do not miss the Giant Aviary where the birds whose premises these are can freely choose where to perch, where to eat, where to nest… and the feathery objects of their affection! 

50 years old and a grown-up now

Around the World at the Doué-la-Fontaine BioPark

A fiftieth birthday calls for a celebration! So, along with continuing improvements in the layout of the park and in ecological practice (dry toilets, insulation…), the BioPark is preparing a big week of festivities, April 23 to May 1 (see details at the end of this article), with a roving exhibit and fourteen big canvases spread around the park, recalling in pictures fifty years of… quarries! Last but not least, there will be a book on the history of the zoo. But wait, there’s more: 1,500 commemorative bottles of the “Cuvée des 50 ans du BIOPARC” (50 Years of the BioPark) produced by the Château de Fosse-Sèche, certified organic, a Saumur red wine well worthy of the appellation will be available in the gift shop.Fifty years, and one more step in the direction of conservation and respect for all species and our environment.

traduction : Annette Bonnell

“Merry-go-rounds in the midst of the animals!”

Around the World at the Doué-la-Fontaine BioPark

Every afternoon, from April 23 to May 1, 2011

The staff has unearthed rare and curious merry-go-rounds from all four corners of France and spread them throughout the zoo. Bab the Clown and his dancing makeup artist Manouchka invite the little ones to their whirling circus. Patrick pedals his Excellent Make-Believe Thing (constructed entirely from salvaged materials) whilst playing the hurdy-gurdy. Miss Dorothy Salsify and John Jerusalem-Artichoke invite you to go vegetable-back riding on their vegetable merry-go-round. And, for the littlest, the Cracottes Company has invented parent-powered merry-go-rounds… The little ones will have fun while their parents buckle down to business!  For more information, go to the zoo’s very informative website at

Zoo de Doué la Fontaine
103 route de Cholet
Phone: +33(0)2 41 59 28 84

Rédigé par Patrick Edgard Rosa le Jeudi 21 Avril 2011 à 20:34 | Lu 1039 fois