Saint Aignan, France
Founded 30 years ago by Francois Delord, Beauval Zoo was rated by Forbes as one of the 15 most beautiful zoos in the world, and is home to more than 4000 exotic animals. Conservation of endangered animals is a strict focus of the zoo, and through its many successful breeding programs it supplies animals to many other accredited zoos each year. With over 300 babies born each year, this practice helps keep the gene pool of captive animals healthy and keeps animals from being removed from the wild for viewing. It also means there are always some cute baby animals to see on a visit!
In the comfort of the limitless shade trees that are part of the lush landscaping, guests will find all kinds of unusual creatures, including the very rare white tiger and white lion. Since 1999, the zoo has been breeding white tigers and has had many litters of cubs that have gone on to other accredited zoos. There are 40 big cats in all, including a black leopard, servals and snow leopards.
One of the newest exhibits is the incredible “On Heights of China”, a 2.5 hectare area with an entire Red-roofed, Chinese “palace” surrounded by stone dragons. The landscaping and style is all done to mimic old world China, and the animals in the enclosures are indigenous to that part of the world. There are red pandas, snow leopards that are part of a captive breeding program, hanuman langurs, and strange goats called ski takins.
There are more than 200 primates at the zoo, including orangutans, lemurs, chimpanzees, capuchins and gorillas. For bird lovers, there are several tropical greenhouses with more than 600 colorful and often noisy birds to encounter. There is also a bird show, featuring 50 birds of preys that should not be missed. And there is marine life as well, including sea lions, which have a show of their own, and manatee. The Beauval zoo has successfully bred endangered manatees, and had the first manatee twins born at any zoo!
In the mini safari park, there are animals from the African savannah to view, including giraffe, sable antelope, zebras and white rhinoceros. The elephants live and play in a 5 hectare enclosure, the largest elephant exhibit in all of France. Another 3 hectare area allows 80 other animals from Africa that would live together on the open plains to roam around together.
The Beauval Zoo is a unique place to visit, and if a visitor wants to stay overnight at this beautiful and inspiring place there is a Balinese style hotel not 500 meters from the zoo itself! The hotel features plantation style teak furniture, and a lovely buffet with choices like seafood, salads, cheeses, and all kinds of luscious deserts! The hotel is the perfect place to relax after a day of walking the lush, meandering grounds of the zoo.