ZooParc de Beauval in Saint-Aignan (Loir et Cher) starts its season on May 25

It honks, it rattles, it shouts, it trumpets, it shouts, it growls … In response, the rare areas of animal silence are streaked with the sound of drills, grinders, grinders, screwdrivers … At Beauval Zooparc, if life never stopped during birth (read elsewhere), activity resumes.
For the reopening scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, the teams are battling. Around the aquatic amphitheater, the sea lions rehearse their show, the sea lions take part in the review and relearn the movements that will seduce an audience – initially divided by two – while their trainer refines the pedagogical discourse that will accompany their development, all set to pop-rock music that breathes a very tangible air of revival.

Sherkan, the white tiger from ZooParc de Beauval, has bowed

“We are reopening very calmly,” says Rodolphe Delord, owner of the premises. I have decided not to reopen on May 19th. I preferred to let Pentecost pass. In any case, the big weekends with the bridges are behind us, and all school excursions, groups of 3rd age clubs and cooperation committee excursions have been canceled. There are the 500 recruited seasonal workers currently being hired. We will be able to train them quietly, without putting pressure on ourselves. This year, just like last year, about 1,050 people will work at zooparc.

100,000 euros in operating costs per day during the seven-month closure

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This assurance draws Rodolphe Delord it from the experience of the first deconfinement and from the certainty of a certain summer tourist patriotism. “I am convinced that the French will stay in France. “Like last year.” We had a great summer with more than a million visitors in five months. We saw a sharp increase in July and August, while June had started quietly. It should be the same. For this May 25, I count 1,000 or 2,000 people a day, with maybe a peak of 5,000 on the weekend. »
History of absorbing part of the lack of the seven-month closure, a deficiency that Rodolphe Delord “has not yet fully calculated”. “Between the salaries of the 250 employees (there were 400 in short-term work) who continued to work, such as trainers, veterinarians, gardeners, technical agents … and the cost of maintaining the animals, the running costs amounted to 100,000 euros a day.”

New hotel, new entrance, parking …

But the zoo has a solid financial backing. And if Rodolphe Delord has applied for a 15 million euro state-guaranteed loan (PGE), he plans to repay it by the middle of next year. “PGE is good, it helps, but it is debt. And debt means less investment capacity. However, part of Beauval’s success is based on constant investment to beautify and improve the park: including the Asian space for the pandas, the hippopotamus swimming pool, the African plain, the gondola and the brand new equatorial dome for 40 years of the park (40 million investments).

Beauval zoo panda Huan Huan could become a mother for the second time

That’s why Rodolphe Delord is already planning. The main entrance is completely remodeled. This work will require nothing less than changing the route of the current department road that serves the site and digging a tunnel. A new hotel – number 4, not forgetting the hotel accommodation – will be built in Saint-Aignan in place of the old hospital that Rodolphe Delord bought. A two-level car park should also see the light of day instead of the former Gérard Pasquier factory. All within two years. History continues to be the tourist engine of the Center-Val de Loire. And one of the top five zoos in the world, according to Tripadvisor.

Seasonal news and births. “During the containment, we mainly did decoration, renovation and decoration work, always for the comfort of our animals,” says Rodolphe Delord. Among the news, the house of the nature association Beauval (which accompanies animal protection programs supported by the zoo), the gorilla cave and the house of the patas monkeys. On the animal side, confinement has seen many births: two baby koalas, a Persian leopard, otters, many monkeys and fish. Finally, the park welcomes a new six-tonne male elephant from the Peaugres Zoo and the Douc monkeys in the Douc, entrusted by Bangkok’s Thailand Zoo. Beauval is one of only two zoos in the world outside of Asia that houses these very rare monkeys

Practice. Scale
From 25 May to 8 June, the track gauge will be 50% of the park’s maximum capacity in the corridors, ie a maximum of around 15,000 people. It will rise to 65% on June 9, and then the term gauge disappears from June 30.
Restoration
For the opening, only the restaurants’ terraces, enlarged, will be accessible. The restaurants welcome the public indoors from 9 June. Please note that the hotel’s restaurants will be open, but only to their customers.
Spectacle
The outdoor bird and sea lion performances are maintained with placement assistance and a maximum capacity of 1,000 people. Several shows scheduled daily.
Protection
It is mandatory to wear a mask throughout the park, also outdoors from the age of 11. 140 hydroalcoholic gel terminals are distributed in the zoo as well as 18 water points for hand washing. Markings on the ground (red and blue arrows) indicate the direction of traffic. Access is limited to one family or group of friends per. gondola.
Schedules and prices
34 euros or 27 euros (3-10 years) for one day; 51 or 40.50 euros for two days. Open daily from kl.

Arnaud Pasquier

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