Jurques Zoo: secrets and behind the scenes

Spring to a zoo rhymes with renewal: births are expected among animals and visitors flock. Jurque Zoo has reopened to the public 7 days a week since April 9th. But behind the scenes, the team is active year-round to take care of the 750 residents of the park. Welcome behind the scenes at Jurque Zoo.

Every morning the animals are waiting for them: no falling asleep on Sundays, no weather excuses that last. In Jurque’s zoo, six people feed 750 mouths and beaks.

Carnivores, vegetarians, omnivores: each species has its own diet. Every year, the zoo sells 13 tons of chicken, 10 beef, 4 fish, 7 apples, 3 bananas … often from local channels.

These tons of fruits, vegetables, meats, seeds and fish weigh heavily on the zoo’s budget. Anti-waste plans, such as unsold products from supermarkets, are therefore welcome.

In fruits and vegetables, we use a ton a week. We order from greengrocers once a week and the rest comes from supermarket profits

Guillaume Ourry director of the zoo in Jurques

For all the animals, the meal is important, but in each enclosure the ceremony is different. Among lemurs, for example, it is the female that takes the brethren.

Often when I step into the enclosure, the matriarch of the group comes over my shoulder to eat directly from the bowl that I hold in my hands. In lemurs, the organization is matriarchal: it is the women who decide. Mother and pups eat first, males wait. If they come at the beginning of the meal, they are chased away by the females

Océane Thomas, goalkeeper at Jurque Zoo

Meanwhile, on the other side of the park, Noémie also hands out fruits and vegetables, but in a more mysterious atmosphere. In “let’s go for a walk in the woods” mode, she hides apple pieces in the pen of the summoned wolves. Unlike their completely carnivorous cousins, these wolves actually eat as many fruits and vegetables as meat.

In nature, it takes a lot of their time to search for their food. In the zoo they have private chefs, they do not have to apply! So we want to stimulate their behavior by hiding the food so that they practice searching for themselves.

Noémie Rolot, keeper of Jurque zoo

To make sure that the diet is adequate, that the amounts are well calculated, and that one of the two wolves does not provide the other’s share, the animals are weighed regularly. “This makes it possible to get a follow-up on the animals, to make sure that they feed properly, that there is not a health problem that we would have missed, for example.” explains caretaker Noémie Rolot.

Especially since these 2 wolves are still young and in the process of adapting. The female Amalia arrived recently from Germany and the Boss male from the Moscow Zoo. If they like it, they may soon offer Maned Cubs to Normandy.

Births characterize life in zoos. In Jurques this month of May, kangaroo cubs are in their pockets, babies are soon expected among penguins, storks, meerkats, lemurs and perhaps mandrills. Pink notebooks that are always awaited with excitement by visitors and members of the park team.

But this year, spring also took Kefir away. The 17-year-old brown lion died on April 25th. A death due to a hemorrhage that made the whole team sad. Kéfir was born in Jurque’s Zoo in 2005. He lived with his sister Sophie, 19, and his mother, Salima, soon to be 23. “We were very surprised, it came suddenly says Guillaume Ourry.

It was Dr. Romain Potier, a veterinarian specializing in zoological medicine who was to kill the lion. For care other than everyday ailments or administration of pest control, the park calls in an external specialist. The Faunevet company in Nantes works in several zoos in France because only the largest parks (a quarter of all) can employ permanent veterinarians.

The veterinarian travels with mobile equipment, in order to perform the maximum care in the enclosure of the animals so as not to disturb them during transport. In March, doctor Romain Potier came to Jurques to see Mangou, a 15-year-old tiger who was suspected of having osteoarthritis of the knee. The animal was put to sleep in its enclosure for an hour and a half to take x-rays of the paw. After this diagnosis, one could find a treatment to relieve the old tiger.

Mangou still has at least 5 good years to spend in Jurque’s zoo. Thanks to food and care, the life expectancy of an animal is longer in captivity than in the wild. The brown lion died at the age of 17, but his sister will soon be 23 … The white lions are 15 years old.

After Kefir’s death, the team plans to bring in one or even more new lions. They will have no trouble finding them: Tonga, a land of welcome, a haven near Lyon, welcomes hundreds. These animals were seized in France in circuses, laboratories or by private individuals after illegal detention or ill-treatment.

Zoos are also havens for traded species. In Jurques, for example, about fifteen macaques were collected. They had been bought illegally in North Africa by European tourists when they were only a few months old.

A baby monkey is cute … But when a male macaque reaches the age of 5-6 years, he wants to become dominant in his group. So the people who bought these monkeys often find that they are in distress: either the monkey flees their home, or it is seized by the courts.

Guillaume Ourry, director of Jurque Zoo

However, the collection of animals seized by the courts does not allow for a large panel and, above all, sufficient diversity within the same species.

However, the 750 animals in Jurque’s zoo all have one thing in common: they were not bought. The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which most French parks join, bans them from trading in animals.

To find residents and avoid inbreeding, the parks exchange animals among themselves through European breeding programs. The purpose of these programs is to save endangered species.

In some cases, species are even reintroduced into their natural environment. A female red vari lemur prepares to leave Jurques, on its way to Champrepus, before returning to the wilds of Madagascar!

The female red vari lemur will meet a male at Champrepus and potentially breed with it. Then the whole family will return to Madagascar. It is easier to reintroduce a group because there will be a cohesion and they will adapt better to their new environment.

Guillaume Ourry, director of Jurque Zoo

Integrating, finding food, avoiding predators: wildlife is a huge challenge for anyone born in captivity. Jurques Zoo has been working on this program for 10 years. Once the lemur family is released into the wild, it will be monitored very closely for several months to ensure the success of this surgery.

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