It has been quite cool and rainy the last few days. Not good weather for adventuring outside. The weather report for today was peu nuageux – that is, just a little cloudy. That meant time to try an adventure again.
I got up relatively early because the zoo’s web site said to come before 10:30 to avoid crowds. The zoo opens at 9:30, so I left the apartment just after 9:00. I walked to Metro St Paul, then line 1 to Bastille, then line 8 to Porte Dorée.
Exiting the Metro along with me was a grade school class, quite young, being lead by their teachers and a few other helpers. I figured that it was “ç’est vendredi – à parc zoologique” (it’s Friday – [let’s go] to the Zoo). I also figured they were a good group to follow for the walk from the Metro to the zoo. And, sure enough, that was their target.
As is everywhere, there was a backup, minor this time, through the gate due to security checking. But, the security checker saw I had a pre-purchased ticket and pointed me directly to the entry turnstile la bas (over there). It was a barcode reader, approved my ticket, and let me in. I got a map and was off.
This zoo is well laid out with a general path that goes around and through everything. It is a pretty classic zoo with zebras, giraffes, lions, rhinos, …
All of them in open areas, outside, and walking about.
Some areas were more tightly contained. I saw a large black jaguar. I do mean large. His area was pretty tightly controlled.
There was a large glass building simulating the Guyana equatorial forest. It took a few minutes for my glasses to unfog after walking inside. It was there I saw an employee feeding the chameleons. He had a container of live grasshoppers (I think that is what they were, maybe locusts). He would hold them so their wings were buzzing and about a foot from the chameleon. Pretty soon, zap, the long tongue came out and no more grasshopper.
When I went into a large area, enclosed with netting not glass, I saw that someone would come at 11:30 and do a feeding. It was about 11:20 so I stayed there to watch. It was various birds. Some water, some not. There were a couple of ducks, some of those spoon-billed things, flamingos, and more. Some of the flamingos were nesting and a constant racket of squabbling came from the nest area.
A young woman came at 11:30. She set up a portable speaker on one side then went to the other. This way she could be heard by everyone. She had a bucket of small fish which she threw to the water birds a few at a time. She also had something else which was fancied by the birds in the trees. She could take out a tidbit and catch the eye of a bird then toss the food and the bird would swoop in and catch it in the air. Once she had gotten something out and into her hand and was talking when a bird buzzed her and snatched it from her grip.
She was pointing out birds and naming them for the assembled multitude. I got most of the descriptions – large bill, red head, … – but never did pick up on the name nor most of her patter. The schoolchildren listening didn’t seem to have my problems understanding.
It is a nice zoo and worth a visit if you have extra time in Paris. It is designed to handle some pretty big crowds, lots of benches and pique-nique (picnic) areas. It turned out to be très nuageux (very cloudy) and the crowds never materialized. That was fine with me.