- For several years, Montpellier Zoo has not been as flamboyant as it has been. The facilities are dilapidated, and many animals have left.
- The city of Montpellier has unveiled its plan to reinvent the Lunaret zoo, which will be encompassed in a vast park, with Montmaur or the Lavalette base.
- As for animals, there is no question of housing animals for which the Mediterranean climate is not suitable. The city wants to consider animal welfare.
Anyone who has strolled in recent years at the Lunaret zoo in Montpellier (Hérault) has had the same impression: the park is tristoune. Many animals are no longer there. And neither do onlookers. In recent years, the State services have even severely pointed out the dilapidated state of some of its facilities. But Montpellier Zoo is not dead. The city, which manages it, even has big plans for Lunaret. On Thursday, she distilled some elements of her plan, so that the zoo finds its beauty.
First, it is no longer a question of thinking about the future of the zoo alone. From now on, the town speaks of a "Grand Parc de Lunaret ", with the current animal park, the Lez reserve, the Meric Park, the Lavalette base and the Montmaur wood, all of which will be connected by paths, on nearly 172 hectares. "An incredible green lung, north of the city," says the mayor, Michaël Delafosse (PS). A team of architects, West 8 Urban and Landscape Architecture, is responsible for working on this vast project. At the end of 2024, we should be able to access the zoo from the Bois de Montmaur. And in 2025, tram line 5 will serve the future large park, with three stations (CNRS-Lunaret, Plan des Quatre seigneurs-Bois de Montmaur and Agropolis).
"It's not Disneyland!"
So what about animals? The municipality wants to focus on "its missions of conservation and scientific and cultural mediation". If new residents arrive at the park, the town hall will take into account "climatic constraints, while respecting animal welfare". If the Mediterranean climate is not suitable for a species, it has nothing to do there, says the city of Montpellier. There is no question of housing species that would require buildings heated to 40 ° or too air-conditioned. No red panda, then. "We will not put animals in pens if they are in dangerous situations, no! It will not be the race for species that are not intended to be here, assures Michaël Delafosse. It's not Disneyland, here. »
In addition, if the perimeter of the zoo will be slightly reduced, the enclosures will be "reworked", says the city of Montpellier, and will welcome, when cohabitation is possible, several species, instead of one at a time, as is the case today. To get a little closer to their original natural environments. A large enclosure for African animals, especially giraffes, is being studied, especially as the Montpellier climate tends to approach, more and more, the Sahelo-Saharan climate. But the lions will remain alone in a vastly enlarged enclosure.
A Wildlife Hospital
Finally, a wildlife hospital will also open, at the entrance of the zoo, in 2025. This animal clinic will welcome and care for injured hedgehogs, foxes, birds or raptors before releasing them into the wild.
To carry out this vast project at the zoo, a new director has been appointed: Marine Baconnais. She has worked in many zoos, but has also been a veterinary assistant at the SPA, and has worked at the LPO. The ideal profile, for this zoo of tomorrow, that the city wishes to imagine.