Near Rennes, a (well) guarded hunt in a former zoo – Rennes

In front of the gate, the large sign that received visitors is overturned. Broken cans and shotgun arms scatter the bushes. A large cedar never stops colonizing the barriers. Behind, rusting cages. Large concrete blocks and barbed wire block access to what was once Québriac Zoo’s leisure park. A sign with a skull announces the color: “Danger, many dogs, inhabited place”. Hanging from the trees, cameras with motion sensors confirm that the site is under surveillance. A large house stands at the end of a path. A real zombie movie set.

(David Brunet / The Monthly of Rennes)

Long ago, the zoo has been a happy place. Created in 1986, ideally located 20 minutes from Rennes, on the road to Saint-Malo, it then brings 30,000 visitors a year to this village with 1,600 souls. The 30-hectare land is home to 300 animals, including monkeys, zebras and tigers. On the program: mini safari on the water, bouncy castle, wonder museum … In the summer, the children of the leisure center wade through the water games or feed the goats in the “caress park”.

The dog is draining

From 2004, Zooloisirs lost its luster. Veterinary services prohibit its reopening on the grounds of the condition of the facilities and the lack of a certificate of competency from the manager. He will be fined 1,100 euros. It is now forbidden to show wild animals. A tiger trainer offers occasional shows. In vain: the park is only a shadow of itself. The schools are not coming anymore. Signs of the decay of the place, an escaped hedgehog is seen at night in the city.

In April 2006, it is the judicial liquidation. Veterinarians discover animals more or less on their own, which associations end up evacuating. A dozen lemurs are being cared for by a shelter in the Netherlands. The contact causes the former leader a “trauma”. “Everyone lied in this case. I wanted to do a good project and I was pillaged. My animals have been scattered, murdered. Imagine people coming to your house to pick up your children. That was how I felt.”

After being fallow, the zoo soon attracted only caravans of squatters and rave parties. The country is under vandalism. For about a year, it has again been legally occupied by a Malian dog breeder. But the problems are not over yet.

He grabs me, puts the gun to my head, shoots in the air …

Around 2018, the former Zooloisirs reappeared on the maps despite themselves, as a popular spot for “urbexers”. These adrenaline junkies take pictures of abandoned places… or supposedly so. On Youtube, videos showing young urbexers shaking in the old moose enclosures at Zooloisirs have millions of views. The curious bunch. To the despair of the new residents. In early February, Erwan * goes to the former Zooloisirs in a small group, including his 13-year-old boy. The forty-year-old describes a shocking scene.

False police?

“When we arrived, we really thought it was an abandoned place. We went through a hole in the fence. After 30, 40 minutes we see a guy come out of nowhere. Pretty tall, muscular, looks cool. He tells us, “Do you make urbex? Me too!” We are not suspicious. He is approaching us. Suddenly he pulls out a gun and shouts, “Police! Come down!” We think it’s a joke. Except he grabs me, puts the gun to my head, fires a shot into the air … He lays me down in the mud with his knee on my neck. Another man arrives, he shoots twice at us. He aims at the others, his hands against a wall. I tell them I have a hip disability. I’m in great pain. It calms things down a bit. They search us, they ask for our identities and threaten to call the gendarmes if we do not say publicly on Facebook that the zoo is off limits ”. Erwan complies, but when he is out, he will lodge a complaint with Liffré’s gendarmes. His cousin, who is also present, intends to do the same. A preliminary investigation has been initiated.

Le Mensuel de Rennes has encountered several similar testimonies. In late January, François * also wanted to show “the abandoned zoo” to his daughter and her boyfriend, both minors. Same mishap: “Police, down!”, Shots, searches … “They did the ‘good cop and the bad cop’ thing against us, except there really was no ‘good cop’. They ended up releasing When they left, one of them said on his walkie-talkie that there was no point in letting the dogs go. “

Witnesses believe to recognize in these “cops” the leader of the place and his 21-year-old son. According to our information, they do not belong to the national police. Contacted, the residents of the site reject these stagings. “I do not walk around with a weapon, I have other things to do! exclaims one of them. “These people decide. We never have peace. I made many complaints. I can understand urbexers, but what they do is illegal. It is well marked everywhere that the land is occupied.”

Far to the west

Urbex-related intrusion is increasingly affecting private properties in France. Its practitioners themselves are divided between those who sympathize with the occupying power pushed to the limit and those who condemn the excesses. But the inhabitants of a place must be careful not to put themselves in error, warns Jérôme Rey, coach of security agents at Cesson-Sévigné. “You can only handcuff someone or handcuff someone if they can escape or pose a danger and if the act they caused can be punished with imprisonment.”

This is where it gets complex: “The law prohibits access to private property, but does not penalize entry into the field as long as there is no damage or theft”. Homeowners can even be held liable if the uninvited guest gets hurt. As for those who would be tempted to play the vigilant Far West style, Jérôme Rey warns: “Pretending to be a police officer or a gendarme is punishable by three years in prison and a fine of € 45,000. Threatening a pistol is an offense, whether true or false, if the opposite person does not know the difference ”.

The town hall of Québriac confirms that the old park is now occupied and “in full cleaning”. However, no one is talking about his future. One thing is for sure: it will not be a zoo again.

* Names have been changed.

Leave a Comment