Retired Jean-Luc Fatio, who lives in Jorat, has made his visits a ritual. A touching habit for the director who struggles to keep the premises open despite Covid.
2020 goes down in Servion Zoo’s annals as the first year it had to close its doors to the public. “Since opening in 1974, it had never happened. Not a single day! “Confirms director Roland Bulliard. But coronavirus was stronger than anything else the site had been through so far. Result, three months of closure in the spring and a week in early November, time to adjust everything to make the visit Covid compliant.And an annual attendance down by about a quarter, but which does not endanger society.
It’s more emotional that it’s been tough. Especially for regulars, like Jean-Luc Fatio, who has been to the zoo … every day for six years. “Since my retirement, I have become accustomed to coming every morning to drink coffee, read the newspapers and go for a short walk,” explains this former teacher who lives in Mézières, right next door. As I like when there is no one, it gives me a reason to get up. The animals behave much more naturally when the audience is not around. So it became a ritual. And when it was closed, I came by at least once a week hoping to meet someone who could give me news about the animals.
“This deer is crazy. The record lasts six weeks, but for him it’s six months!
Jean-Luc Fatio, daily visitors to Servion Zoo
It is therefore with relief that Jean-Luc Fatio saw the place reopen its doors a few days ago; although the restaurant and buildings are not accessible and it is mandatory to wear a mask everywhere on site. He always has enough to wonder about. A tour of the premises of his company also turns into a guided tour: “Hi Sidonie,” he says as he arrives at the boar enclosure. Where’s Stinky? There are the raccoons, but before kl. 15.00 you do not even have to think about seeing them. Ah, listen to the roaring deer! He’s a crazy man. In nature, the record lasts six weeks, but at home it is six months!
For the director, such passionate people are touching: “We only have one who comes every day, but several come regularly, for example every week. It is gratifying to have visitors with such an interest. And then it can be useful: as they know the animals well and take the time to observe them, they sometimes notice details that we have missed! ”
Two projects underway
With or without visitors, however, the work continues. Because the animals do not wait and it Zoo always seeks to improve both the conditions of retention of its guests and the comfort of its visitors. Roland Bulliard and Jean-Luc Fatio – who also know the name of each employee – take us to see the construction sites get underway. The first takes place in the lion enclosure. The young couple, who arrived this summer, have not yet been able to get in direct contact, and things are going badly with the prelude. “It’s normal,” explains the daily visitor literally. If I compare them to my former students, it’s a teenager rolling mechanics towards a young girl still playing rubber bands. The guardians are therefore in the process of building a separation in the outdoor park, so that the two can quietly tame each other in full safety.
In another sector, carpenters are at work. They are building a long covered walkway over the bison fence. “I was able to rent a plot of 5000 m² adjacent to their enclosure, explains Roland Bulliard. On the other hand, it was impossible to install infrastructures there. With this solution, the bison will have a double surface area, and visitors will be able to see them better! ” Finally, the zoo expects a new female snow leopard to arrive in the coming weeks. “We’re happy, but since she’s from Italy, with Covid, it’s a little complicated!”
Sylvain Müller has been a journalist for the Vaudoise section since 2005. He is in charge of the Echallens office and as such covers the news of the Gros-de-Vaud district.
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