In Sury-aux-Bois, go to Muriel Bec, who raises animals, movie stars

Far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, invaded by screens and the worries specific to human beings, another world exists : calm, green, bucolic, animal. To find out, just go in Sury-aux-Bois.

In this Loiret village, of barely 800 souls, located forty minutes from Orléans and 1?h?30 from Paris, is an area of ​​about twenty hectareshome to more than 200 animals. A Noah’s Ark where about forty species live: dogs, cats, wolves, panthers, deer, deer, fallow deer, wild boars, squirrels, birds, elephants… Animals, wild or domesticwhich have the particularity of to burst the screen, in the cinema as on television.

Whether they are panthers or fallow deer, the animals that visitors to the Sury-aux-Bois estate discover have a lot of dog. Photos Christelle Gaujard

Muriel Bec holds the reins of this atypical centre. For more than thirty years, this specialist in animal staging – as she defines herself because she does not like the term trainer – has been training animals to achieve feats, facing the camera. She has more than thousand shoots to his credit, including those of his friend Nicolas Vanier: Belle and Sebastian, Skip school Where give me wings.

Link textOne year after confinement: Muriel Bec has changed pace and set up new projects in Sury-aux-Bois

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“Understand them to love them”

For a long time, Muriel Bec remained a solitary wolf. “I was tinkering with my animals, in “pépèreland” mode”, smiles the one who has been living in Sury for eight years. But in 2015, the idea of ​​”Rendez-vous en terre animal” was born, a new concept aimed at open the doors of its domain to the public.

“Many people found it unfortunate that the site was only accessible to an elite of film professionals.”

The hyperactive therefore launches various unusual activities, one weekend a month, such as discovering her pack of wolves. With a credo that will never let go:

“Meet them to know them, know them to understand them, understand them to love them, love them to defend them.”

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic arrives and, with it, the interruption of filming. Stopping a frantic race. Thanks to the help of her brother, the animal lover takes advantage of this break to devote herself to her domain of Sury-aux-Bois.

She describes it like this in his autobiography titled animalco-written with Virginie Jouannet and published last June:

“Sury is a completely renovated and enlarged house, surrounded by twenty hectares of land where the enclosures flanked by their “dormitories” are staggered, outbuildings which house a set with a blue background intended for filming, circulation corridors for the fiercest of our animals, horse boxes, a riding school, fenced meadows and a small wood where the animals can frolic as they please.”

Muriel Bec has published her autobiography, “Animal(e)”, co-written with Virginie Jouannet. Photo Christelle Gaujard

Respect for animals

In this space, where respect for animals is an essential value, Muriel Bec wishes to “positively human presence. The loss of freedom is compensated by well-being and learning. There is no obligation – and especially no aggression?! –, only incentives and a good dose of complicity.”

This dog who cuddles his trainer Mélanie Rabin, a mastiff, is none other than the one who plays Pupuce in the series With family, broadcast on M6. Photo Christelle Gaujard

Among the “meetings in animal land” offered in Sury-aux-Bois (from 140 euros), film studio tour?; the discovery of the professions of caretaker and trainer; introduction to falconry?; the ride with the elephant Beiby?; the encounter with the felines?; or, highlight of the show, immersion with European wolves : Jen, Chem, Veen, Horst and Vlad. The movie stars Mysterydirected by Denis Imbert and released last December, tells the story of a little girl from Cantal who takes a liking to a puppy, which turns out to be a wolf.

By attending the preview of this feature film, the Lafon family, who live in this department, became aware of the center founded by Muriel Bec. And immediately wanted to find out. Élodie, Aurélien and their daughters slept in a lodge, accommodation opened in July 2020 (from 340 euros), with a view of these wild but tamed beasts. “The wolves sang at nightfall. It was a beautiful sight,” they say, stars in their eyes.

From their lodge, guests can watch the animals being fed. Photo Christelle Gaujard

A feeling of happiness reinforced by the immersion in which these Auvergnats participate, in the company of a dozen other people. two hours during which time stands still.

“They’re not dogs”

Before entering a space of two hectares, visitors listen carefully to the recommendations of the specialist, Jean-Yves Bouard :

“Don’t go in front of them, stay together, don’t carry a bag, don’t drop anything on the ground. If they come towards you, don’t cry out, don’t make any sudden gesture. Let yourself be carried away.

The animals quickly get used to humans. They stare at them and approach them. Customers manage to photograph them, even pet them. But, once again, Jean-Yves Bouard insists on caution: “They are not dogs.”While visiting the center, the public attends animal training exercises, such as wolves, usually reserved for film shoots. Photo Christelle Gaujard

Muriel Bec’s team, which works with twenty employees and service providers, recovered the carnivorous mammals, born in captivity, when they were ten days old. As Jean-Yves Bouard explains:

“They are fearful animals. In nature, their parents would have taught them to fear Man. Since these are actor wolves, we did just the opposite. We immediately set up immersions so that they get used to the human presence, in particular with the young actress from the film Mystery, Shanna Keil.

Throughout the course, participants attend training exercises, usually reserved for film shoots, such as static brand positioning. Wolves obey.

The walk ends with an astonishing scene, which should forever mark those present. “Squat down and sing the cry of the wolf. We’ll see if they want to communicate with you,” says the professional. Affirmative. For several minutes, now at the same level as them, the beasts navigate between the visitors, howling. “Unbelievable”blow the latter.Among the activities offered by “Rendez-vous en terre animal”, a two-hour immersion with a pack of European wolves, who played in the film “Mystery”. A walk ending with a song with them. Photo Christelle Gaujard

For all these animals, who play in films, series or commercials, contact with the public is essential. “It drives them. Because there are often around thirty people behind the cameras”, recalls Jean-Yves Bouard. His colleague Melanie Rabina dog specialist, agrees: “When we go to a set, we take the puppies so that they get to know the filming equipment and that they feel positive.”

“The most beautiful film of my career”

As explained Muriel Bec“our method is to make them tame the Man. Everything is based on the relationship of trust established between humans and animals.” The owner of the Sury-aux-Bois estate has just finished filming the next film by Luc Besson, entitled DogManthe story of a man broken by life, who rebuilds himself thanks to the love for his dogs.

A long-term project, started in January, for which it hired no less than 130 canines. “A huge challenge. This is the first time I’ve toured with Besson. It’s impressive. It is without doubt the most beautiful film of my career,” says Muriel Bec.

Exhausted by this intense filming, the enthusiast finds comfort with his animals. As she writes in her autobiography: “The Earth carries me, the animals speak to me and suddenly I feel, I understand, I am connected.”

Visitors can experience a film set with blue screen. Photo Christelle Gaujard

In the Loiret, push the gate of La Ferme du bonheur, which collects abused and abandoned animals

Anne-Laure Le Jan


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