The next reopening of zoos: like a Tiger Spleen

From the top of a cliff, the Urals explore the surroundings. Giant, the Siberian tiger weighs more than 250 kilos in weight. The king of the place opens his formidable mouth to lick one paw and then the other. Each is the size of a large dinner plate. Below, Tinka, the “little” female of 170 kilos, walks in silence. And to admire the magnificent spectacle offered by the two felines: only one visitor. Roland Bulliard, director of Servion zoo.

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“In all, we should have closed for three months,” sighs the mustachioed man in the leather hat. A few days earlier, the Federal Council had actually decided: the “botanical and zoos” will not be able to reopen until June 8. A decision that the department considered “incomprehensible” while museums and libraries were allowed to welcome visitors from 11 May. Their owners are protesting and waiting for a saving gesture.

“A completely unfair situation”

“We will write to Guy Parmelin this week,” said Roger Graf, a spokesman for Zoosuisse. To describe the situation to him. And ask to have it changed. By the end of April, seven zoos in Romandie had already contacted the Federal Council to ask for help. Without being heard. Earlier prayers from German-speaking Switzerland were no more successful. “However, we believe that we meet all the conditions for reopening quickly,” the communicator apologizes. The Lucerne Transport Museum resumes its activity in May, and the zoos could not do it? Most parks are outdoors and have plenty of space to move around in. The situation is completely unfair. ” In Servion, the large deserted alleys actually suggest that respect for safety distances would be easily implemented.

“The only places that could be a problem are inside,” says Roland Bulliard. Most animals tolerate bad weather all year round, but primates, tigers and other parrots are also visible from the inside. To avoid traffic jams, the zoo already has a proven solution. “Before the closing, we had received visitors on March 14 with a sense of visitation,” says the director. There are two kilometers of path in the park. It worked very well. ” The umbrella organization Zoosuisse also condemns another injustice: While the “cultural sector” will receive support of up to 280 million francs, zoos have been excluded. But regularly classified in the same area, they will not receive anything. “And besides, many employees, unlike museums, are not entitled to partial unemployment because they have to keep working to look after the animals,” Roger Graf criticizes.

monkeys are bored

In Servion, ten caregivers and therapists remain on site. This is the case with Fabien, an apprentice in the CFC “animal guardian”. The staff during training unanimously decided to continue the work, emphasizes the young man, visibly happy to be there. “But it’s empty right now,” he admits with his face down in the mud, one arm buried up to his shoulder in a polar fox hole. “I’m trying to see if there’s a litter,” he explains from inside the cage. Probably worried about his cubs, one of the small mammals bites Vaudois’ boot, which gently pushes it away. “There are babies! The nurse is happy. This is the first time. Calm is good for some animals. For example, the pheasants laid more eggs than usual.” After several weeks of closure, our presence in turn arouses distrust or curiosity on the other side of the fence.A large stationary playground reminds us that places can be much noisier.

Small structures are really in danger

Roger Graf

“Animals have a slightly different behavior,” analyzes Roland Bulliard. Bears and lynx, we no longer see them. They are most active at night. The bison, on the other hand, are more attentive. And then the monkeys get a little bored. They are the most playful, we try to give them energy. While the animals for the comfort of the guests usually get food at fixed times, the meals are now served at random to keep them awake. A few health precautions are also in place: By April, four tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo had contracted coronavirus, which Servion is trying to avoid. Gloves and hands that are disinfected regularly are useful. “No case has been detected in our animals”, greets an employee. The staff also keeps an eye out. During the lunch break, everyone has their own table to enjoy their hamburger. Despite the situation, the mood is warm.

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Loss as if it was raining

Because Servion has a strong back: “I have a rather cautious management, appreciate its director. At the beginning of winter, I always have around 500,000 francs in an account. ” Despite a loss of 400,000 francs, he therefore looks to the future with confidence, which is not the case for some of his colleagues. At the La Garenne Zoo, 350,000 francs flew away and management described the economic situation as “catastrophic”. In Les Marécottes, nearly 200,000 francs also went up in smoke, and the zoo “will not recover without a loan without funds,” says Florian Piasenta, director of the park and president of PLR Valais.

Finally, in Lausanne, Aquatis is claiming 140,000 francs in monthly maintenance costs, for which the aquarium has launched an appeal for donations. In total, the Swiss parks lose about 2.5 million francs a week. “Small structures are really in danger,” warns Roger Graf. The Zoosuisse representative is now hoping for two things: further financial compensation and a possible intermediate reopening phase: “Between 11 May and 8 June? he will believe. It may be possible. “Back on top of his mound, Ural does not care about these trivial questions. For him, the day went well, garnished with 10 kilos of beef.

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