Beauval Zoo, “safe for biodiversity”

The presence of koalas, Tasmanian devils, rhinos or gorillas in Beauval Zoo Park is no coincidence. And even less a commercial fart. It is the result of a European, even international, network of zoos which, in addition to a well-understood community of interest, a smart balance between the ability to attract the public thanks to rare species and the desire to preserve biodiversity, network in the same direction for animal protection.

“Our ethic is not to sell the animals”

“Our ethic is not to sell animals to another park,” says Rodolphe Delord, director of Beauval Zoo. You can not manage cash properly if you put a market value on them. dolls, with an extraction structure.
At the national level, the French Association of Zoos (AFDPZ), of which Rodolphe Delord is president, gathers about a hundred zoos and weighs 22 million visitors a year. Above is the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums. About fifty French zoos are part of it. And at the top of the pyramid, Waza, for World Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, which brings together 1,300 zoos in more than 50 countries. Including Beauval Zoo.

Each endangered species is managed by a European coordinator

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“For about 30-40 years there have been European breeding programs, EEPs, dedicated to endangered species,” explains Rodolphe Delord. “Each endangered species is managed by a European coordinator. He is the one who organizes all exchanges of these animals between European and even When we wanted a hippopotamus, for example, we visited the coordinator responsible for this animal in Europe. And we have a code of ethics: not to transfer animals without the consent of the leader of the breeding program. “

You cannot manage a species if you put a market value on it

This specialist also provides recommendations for reproduction. Because these zoos have created a global database showing all the animals in their respective parks. “It is on the basis of this information and these recommendations that the animals are sent to such a park,” says Rodolphe Delord.

The procedure provides, among other things, the opportunity to preserve a breed. As with the Tasmanian devils, individuals of whom have been sent, at the request of the Australian Government, to a few international zoos. Purpose: to protect the endemic species on the island continent from a contagious cancer that is destroying the indigenous peoples. Or preferably with koalas. “There are only 70 outside Australia, but it is important to distribute them to various zoos if a zoo is affected by a disease that could exterminate representatives of this species.”

“We are part of a conservation chain”

This strategy also allows for the exchange of knowledge within species. An example?? The Gorilla. There are about 300 specimens in Europe, a population led by a Dutch coordinator, headed by a kind of “board”, which presides over the fate of this species, and in which sits a representative of each country with a gorilla. one or more parks. “It is he who will at some point decide that a gorilla born in Beauval seven to eight years ago, who has been brought up, educated, who has learned to look for his food, to build tools, must travel elsewhere. Thus he will be able to teach his new congeners. “

“We preserve viable populations in the long run”

This system has another advantage, according to its proponents: “Ensuring the genetic quality of the breed by rejecting the risk of inbreeding. And Rodolphe Delord cites the example of rhinos (read below). Every year, the Beauval Zoo records 600 to 700 animal movements. And three full-time people administer “We are part of a whole chain of conservation and protection,” says Rodolphe Delord.

Arnauld Pasquier

From rhino libido …Rhinoceros on the African savannah at Beauval Zoo (Pierrick Delobelle)

The system of exchange between parks also makes it possible to ensure the genetic quality of the breed, eliminate the risk of kinship and can in some cases promote reproduction. In this regard, Rodolphe Delord cites the example of the rhino. “Today there is a lot of reproduction in the parks. But 30 years ago that was not the case. The animals, males and females, were put together very young. A habit developed in their relationship, but their libido decreased and they did not mate. For them, it was like incest, between brother and sister. As we started moving the animals around and swapping them between the parks, it got a lot better. »

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