Discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal trainer

Simon Valentin, 23, is a pet sitter at Zoo Safari in Thoiry. Since joining “Team Rangers” in the famous park, he has lived out his childhood dream: to take care of wildlife. Like all of Thoiry’s goalkeepers, his job is, unusually, his great passion, despite the sometimes limiting aspects.

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

When he takes his watch a little before 8 o’clock, Simon Valentin has one many tasks to be performed before opening to the public at 10. Suffice it to say that the two hours that come, he will pass them on a race, but in fashion maximum concentration. When working with wildlife, safety requirements are the alpha and omega of the industry.

“There is no room for error. Even in captivity, the animal remains dangerous.”

The Healer’s first missionevery morning, whether it is scorching or freezing cold, it is check the condition of the fences before shutting out animals that spend the night in shelters.
Walkie-talkie in hand, Simon sends his observations to Eric, the animal keeper. When this important task is completed, he prepares the end of the lions, tigers and panthers. In the big cats’ cave, a sharp smell jumps in your throat, and the roars and growls in the greeting are impressive. But Simon is in his right element.

When I was young, my dream was to take care of wild animals, especially lions. And there I am. This childhood dream has become my reality!

To live his dream, Simon passed after studying agriculture the specialty as a pet sitter. Only four schools in France are educated in the subject. And if the candidates flock to, job offers are rare.

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

Vigilance and concentration at all times

Bringing the cats forward is a delicate phase. Each step is accurate and connected in one choreography repeated a thousand times, but always potentially dangerous. Calm, focused and alert, the caretaker observes each animal to ensure its well-being. At the slightest doubt about bizarre behavior, he beeps the vet or one of the three veterinarians present in the park. In an almost VIP room lives a new family: a lion cub is born a few months ago and Simon can not get enough of the show.

“For us, births are the apotheosis. We have had many in recent months among several species, such as wildebeest or mane wolves; it’s amazing, a culmination “,

says Simon happily.

Once the large “matous” have been let out into their huge enclosures where visitors can admire them, the race continues for Simon. He goes to the warehouse where the food is stored. That he prepares the rations adapted to each animal. That morning, in addition to the big cats, he was responsible for the hyenas and animals in the “Australia” sector (kangaroos, emus, cassowaries, ostriches, etc.).

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

The caretaker’s job is above all the maintenance of the rooms

The clock is ticking, the park will soon welcome tourists. There is still a lot to do: remove the manure, clean the cages, stack bags of special hay up to the giraffes, fill the water troughs, fix something, spin a gossip to a Somali donkey, stop by to greet the elephant Legs and finally feed the animals.

“You need to know before you become a healer that the maintenance of shelters and houses is more than 50% of the work. It is very important, Simon explains, because good hygiene prevents epizootics (diseases) ”.

Part of the job is also to create “enrichments”. It is new elements (smell, vegetation, etc.) that are coming enrich the animals’ habitatwhich walks stimulate their natural instincts.
“For example, at night, when the big cats have returned, we put horse manure in their enclosure. The next day, when they go out, they discover this new smell that fascinates them and will awaken all their senses, ”explains Tiphaine de la Rivière, photographer and spokesperson for the park.

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

“Thoiry Conservation”, 1st fund in France

When asked why he chose to work at the Parc de Thoiry, Simon’s answer is direct:

“I really like the ethics of this business; its obligation to preserve and preserve endangered species. I could never be a healer where there would not be this ethic ”.

The park has really created “Thoiry Conservation”, the first scholarship fund in France. It funds worldwide nature conservation programs such as Namibian cheetahs or some madagascar lemurs.

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

The discovery of Thoiry with Simon, animal keeper © CD78 / S.GAYET

Training with veterinarians

The time is 10.00, the visitors are there. Simon has an appointment with vet Maxime for the “training” of the tiger. To avoid anesthesia an animal in the case of a simple blood test, for example, you need to be able to approach it. This approach work between the vet, the healer and the tiger can take months. Everything takes place in a protected way, behind a fence or a fence. “We must not force or hasten the animal. It is up to us to adapt to it. Patience is essential in this job.“.

The day is far from over for Simon the Healer. He has another “elephant encounter” prepare for the arrival, this July, of two baby elephants who will keep company with Ben, the place’s old pachyderm.

“Every day, when my work is done, I spend a few minutes isolating myself. I walk to an elevated corner of the park, look at the wildlife and realize my luck. This job makes me super happy. »

Babysitting for a day!

This program is open to children from 7 years to 14 years. It’s a little expensive, so it may be an option for a collective, family gift.
Clean, feed, observe and maintain: here are the tasks they will perform during a memorable half day of discovery.
Half-day program:
9.00: Departure for the budding coachese, supply of healing equipment
Preparation of animal feed
feeds small mammals (coatis, meerkats, ringhalelemurer)
Cleaning pets: giraffes or farm or lemurs
Big Cats breakfast
Distribution of branches for giraffes
Encounter with strange animals
12:15: Return to the park entrance

More information about Thoyer’s VIP programs

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