Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) – Closure of the Orangerie zoo on August 6, the Ukrainian conflict complicates animal transfers

The Parc de l’Orangerie zoo in Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) will definitively close its access to the enclosures to the public on Saturday August 6. It will give way to an educational animal park. Wild animals are being transferred but the war in Ukraine complicates operations.

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Visitors to the Parc de l’Orangerie are surprised: for several months, the enclosures of the small zoo have been emptying one after the other. The place, in its current configuration, is indeed doomed to disappear. Its very existence, with the presence of several species of wild animals, has been a source of controversy for several years. The municipality – environmentalist – had recorded its permanent closure in June 2021.

Resident transfers started last spring. The lynxes are already gone, the monkeys will be soon. Of the 90 wild animals still present at the beginning of the year, 57 have already been taken care of in specialized structures, 5 very old have died of old age. 28 animals remain, including three storks which will leave in September.

We still have to find a place for them. “It’s not about putting them back in zooschallenges Alexandra Morette, the president of the Code Animal association, which has been campaigning for several years for the closure of Strasbourg enclosures. They must be found places where they can calmly end their lives, because wild animals that have spent part of their existence in captivity cannot return to the wild state.“.

The lynxes were lucky enough to find a place in the Black Forest, in the Barenpark which already welcomes wolves and bears rescued from zoos or circuses. “This place is perfectis satisfied Alexandra Morette. The park is a very large natural space and not everything is accessible to the public. The animals can therefore remain quiet, out of sight if they wish. This type of structure is tending to develop in Europe, but there are still too few of them to meet all needs.

The City would like all wild animals to be out of their enclosures by August 31st. But the lack of structures is compounded by the Ukrainian conflict, which is delaying operations. “Many reception centers throughout Europe are indeed blocking priority places for Ukrainian animals from zoos or parks.explains Françoise Hamard, the assistant in charge of animals at the City. As long as the war continues, these places remain blocked and complicate the placement of our animals. Added to this is the gradual departure of wild beasts from circuses, increasingly decried, which also occupy many places..

Rare are the voices to speak out against the departure of the lynxes, monkeys and other exotic animals which do not live in their natural state in our regions. But the closure of the zoo does not leave the people of Strasbourg indifferent. Many of them came there in their childhood before returning later with their children. “We understand that this decision is not unanimous and does not particularly gather the support of the elderly who have known the zoo since their childhood.concedes the representative of the municipality. But attitudes are changing and societal expectations are changing. Little by little, men must understand that animals are not objects of entertainment. But this does not mean renouncing the link with the animals since within the framework of the future call for projects, we wish activities around the discovery of the wild fauna in freedom in the park “.

An educational animal park should indeed take the place of the enclosures. The already existing mini-farm is destined to continue and will present domestic animals. The activities of the site will also be redesigned to introduce the public to the wild fauna present freely in the park and to raise awareness of its respect. These new developments are announced for the end of 2023.

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