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Pairi Daiza Pairi Daiza visit

Discussion in 'Belgium' started by KevinB, 4 Oct 2019.

  1. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    I'm not entirely sure where the best place would be to post this, and if this would be more appropriate elsewhere I am okay with a staff member moving this.

    Today was the first day of my two-day visit to Pairi Daiza. The visit didn't start off well as I forgot to have any breakfast and was cranky and a bit disoriented in the beginning but after a bite that luckily improved relatively quickly. The weather turned out to be quite a bit better than expected, as the forecasted rain did not arrive until around 4 PM. I saw the areas located above the creek running through the park on the map, including Kingdom of Ganesha (Asian zone), Land of Origins (African zone), Land of the Cold and The Last Frontier (Northern and Canadian zones),Southern Cape (Australian zone) the penguins and seals and the Mersus Emergo reptile house ship as well as the bird-of-prey area and the Spix and Lear's macaws (was only able to photographs Spix though as Lear's retreated inside before I got to it, but I did see it briefly). Knowing I'll be going two days I took my time and left some major areas for tomorow.

    I last visited Pairi Daiza five years ago and man have things changed there in that time. I mean the zoo was already impressive in terms of theming and ornaments at that time but they turned things up a notch or eleven in the intervening years - and then some. Some of is plain crazy and the level of decoration, theming and immersion (although cultural rather than habitat immersion) is at a level I have not seen at any of the other 50 zoos I have visited. Things like the gorilla volcanos (not just one but two, because, why have only one if you can?) and especially the largest orangutan temple are just nuts, and the leopard and white tiger temples are also pretty crazy, although not all are admittedly great as animal housing. Another one I need to mention is the house with all the very elaborate wood carvings near the orangutans. I have not seen anything at this level at any other zoo I have visited, not have seen stuff like this from other zoos online. I cannot even imagine how you could surpass things like this.

    Another thing I was really impressed by was the size of the construction site and buildings for the future expansion of the Land of the Cold. Also what zoo has a freaking hangar with a full-sized bush plane and a Russian vehicle, Christmas staues and other assorted junk, and a train hangar that looks like a small train museum, but with goats grazing on the roof and with a huge Russian restaurant nearby? Pretty crazy.

    Unfortunately I disliked the train. I found it disturbingly noisy and unfortunately it was coal-fired, which caused it to bellow disgusting grey or brown smoke clouds as well as to stink pretty badly. Could they really not come up with a more environmentally friendly and healthy system to power their trains?

    Personally I found the Mersus Emergo reptile house ship the least enjoyable. Sure they had interesting species and the now (in)famous bathroom with an look into the reptile breeding rooms (one more thing to proof Pairi Daiza is pretty much operating at another level), but the thing is pretty much an acoustic hellhole and the floors in there creak rather terribly. I would say that they should start considering modernizing much of it.

    In the African village I got up close with a shoebill stork (that kind of scared me for a second also) and in terms of species I saw a few new ones today as well as some I had not seen in years.

    For now this is all I'm going to say and I'm going to conclude by saying that Pairi Daiza is in many aspects in a league all of its own and is definitely one of the most impressive and over the top zoos there are. Whether it is one of the best or one of my favorites I have yet to decide on.

    I wonder what additional Pairi Daiza adventures await me tomorrow...
     
    Last edited: 4 Oct 2019
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  2. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    On an additional note that I forgot to add last night: when I was having lunch on the terrace of Le Moulin (the water mill), near the raptors and the train station, their was a small gang of nasty greylag geese hanging around and getting up close with visitors, searching and begging for food. And when they didn't get any they starting pecking at things (benches, visitors luggage, shoes) and one actually pecked me in the lower back (not pleasant at all, although it luckily left no mark). Unfortunately some visitors were actually feeding the geese, and I saw feeding of ducks in the African village also, so that this kind of behavior is continuing to be imprinted in these animals.
     
  3. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    A while ago I got home from my second day at Pairi Daiza and I am now resting as it have been two fairly tiring days that have however left me quite content, but I wanted to report on my thoughts on Pairi Daiza tonight already.

    Today I visited "The Middle Kingdom" (Chinese area), the huge walk-through aviary, the bird, bat and clouded leopard greenhouse, the Nautilus aquarium, the crypt, the Oasis and some other assorted exhibits in or around those areas, and I did another tour of the raptor area and The Last Frontier, which are two of my favorite areas. I also got lucky with the Spix' and Lear's macaws and saw both species very well. They are beautiful birds.Today I also saw birds of paradise again for the first time since my 2005 visit to Walsrode (I saw two of the three species) and my first bharal and Chinese goral as well as several new and rare bird species (Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent amazons, palm cockatoos, Pesquet's parrots et cetera) kept in the Oasis.

    It was way busier today than yesterday and in some areas it was a bit of nuisance, but it didn't get to me too badly. Given all the people there today I now understand why Pairi Daiza gets 2 million visitors per year (in only like 8 months out of the year as well). The only areas I ended up skipping due to the number of people were the giant panda exhibits where Xing Hui and Hao Haou live - but I did see a giant panda, as I did see Tian Bao in his own exhibit - and the bathroom underneath a fish tank in the aquarium building (taking pictures there would have been impossible anyway). I also did not take every route in the Chinese gardens nor visited the huge Chinese temple, but I believe I did not miss any major exhibits or species.

    The Nautilus aquarium was probably the area I enjoyed the least today. I entered the aquarium right at its opening time half an hour after the zoo opened and it was still crowded. The fairly narrow hallways of the aquarium felt kind of claustrophobic. I also found that some of the tanks were on the small side and/or overcrowded, and some of the exhibits to not really be entirely up to today's standards when compared to other aquaria. I also did not enjoy the curiosity room that had some rather disturbing objects on display. Considering the quality and nature of many other exhibits and displays at Pairi Daiza, the aquarium seems to be getting somewhat outdated - although admittedly, given the presence of the old style stairs, it is still on oddball aquarium and thus still fits in at Pairi Daiza. That said, it is still clear it really wasn't built for the current visitor numbers.

    The Crypt was also a bit of a low point and I enjoyed more when they still had the venomous reptile room in there. The "Treasure cave" that is there now was shockingly bizarre with a very eclectic and strange collection of assorted junk, for the presence of which I fail to see any logical or even illogical explanation. Then they threw in some naked mole rats and ants in fairly strange exhibits as an extra. I did enjoy the little amphibian room at the end of the crypt.

    The Chinese gardens are still really nice and I enjoyed the changed collection in that area, with more larger animals in the area with the winding covered corridor. I did not however like the snow leopard exhibits at all, and I noticed some wear and a need for maintenance and repair on some of the Chinese buildings.

    The huge walk-through aviary was till very nice but the "adventure bridge" that starts within the aviary should really be moved out of there as it is a nuisance, both visually and audibly.

    I liked that the Oasis seems to have gotten a bit of a "keep rare species in here" theme (although there are still some obligatory meerkats and prairie dogs as well).

    Something that I also noticed was the attention to detail in terms of horticulture and gardening as well as park design and decorative objects in many areas - something that must have cost a lot of time and effort as well as money, and something that also contributes to the bizarre character of Pairi Daiza.

    On conclusion, it is difficult to truly compare Pairi Daiza to other zoos as in many respects it is truly in a league all of its own and just so different and bizarre. However, if I were to rank it, I would still have to rank it pretty high, as it is a pretty amazing zoo, in multiple senses of that word. It will never be my favorite as I found it just too over the top (and then some) in certain areas but I did enjoy it and will certainly visit again the future to witness its bizarreness.

    On a final note: it might be months still before I start posting pictures, and it will take a huge amount of time for me to do so as I took an awful lot of them.
     
    Last edited: 5 Oct 2019
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  4. Clem

    Clem Active Member

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    We might have passed each other today !
    It was a crowded day, the Mersus Emergo and Aquarium were a nightmare to visit.
    I'm pretty jealous about the Spix's macaws that didn't show up (3 passages). Unfortunately, the fence is pretty tight, adding a serious difficulty for the photos.
    I do have to say that I've really enjoyed The Crypt : it's not so common to see such a odd place in a zoo, and the bat room is awesome.
    The Oasis unfortunately isn't well adapted for rare species : pathways are tight and with the restaurant inside and the playground, a lot of people are always present in this greenhouse. The few rare species must go insane with all the crowd and the noises that come with. Same thought for Spix' and Lear's macaws : giving an aviary next to the entrance/giftshop for birds that come from a private breeding facility isn't so smart.
    What are your impressions about the Oceanian part ? Have you seen the wombat in the Kingdom of Ganesha ?
     
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  5. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    You are not wrong about the Oasis not being very well adapted to keep rare or more sensitive species, but it wasn't hugely crowded when I was in the Oasis (around 3 PM today) and the animals didn't really seem to suffering under the crowds as many rare species were showing themselves well, although some of the hornbills were actually hiding.

    I like the Oceanian zone generally, although I believe the walk-through aviary with its dry zone theming not to be very well adapted for some of the species kept there. The koala and Tasmanian devil exhibits and the walk-through zone with kangaroos and Australian pelicans were pretty decent and nice though, I think.

    As for the wombat exhibit, I don't think it is very bad, but I didn't like the indoor housing with the burrows much as you really couldn't see much at all in there.
     
  6. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Bizaare is how I described this park too ,after I visited earlier this year also. Many of the animal exhibits are very good, but some a lot less so. Yet I don't understand all the strange add-ons, the 'junk' like museum specimens etc and the weird focus on temple-style buildings- most of it I completely overlooked anyway as I did not have time to look into all of that. Why is it like this? 'Normal' zoos have nothing of this sort.
     
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  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I went in May from the UK specifically to see this species. I would have freaked out if I had failed to see them. :eek:The first two times I failed though and was getting worried but they were out later in the day, and the second morning I saw them easily as soon as I arrived too. The design of the aviary means it is virtually impossible to get good photos of them when they stay high up I think, unless they come down low. I don't think being near the gift shop affects them though, as its not a particularly noisy area.
     
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  8. Clem

    Clem Active Member

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    At the openning, I find it very noisy unfortunately.
    Same thought for the indoor, really cool to discover this species, but not so easy to spot in the dark burrows.

    Pertinax : for the only reason that Pairi Daiza don't want to be a "normal zoo" ! Adding old stuff, rocks and gems, temples etc gives the originality of this place.
    A bit disapointed fort the Spix, but I'll be back soon ;)
    A the openning and the closing of the park, thousands of people pass through this area ...
     
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  9. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    I personally liked the size and the arrangement/furnishing of the Spix' and Lear's macaw aviaries, but I agree that they were less than ideal for viewing and photography and given the rarity of these species would have preferably been placed in a less busy and crowded area (they are also right near not just one, not just two, but three gift shops!) and I hope they eventually move these birds elsewhere (they are building a breeding center for macaws currently).

    When I passed through the area and the Spix' and Lear's were both on show quite well (though still fairly high up) the area was relatively quiet and empty - and when it was busy the birds in my experience seemed to generally retreat. As long as they can get away and hide I don't see a massive problem personally, but I agree that the location is not ideal. That said I do not know how stress-sensitive these particular species are.
     
  10. Clem

    Clem Active Member

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    KevinB : I hope too that they will join the breeding center and that this one will be visible for visitors. Thank you for the explanations, I'll try to go there in a less crowded hour next time.
    Luckily they can hide but if they need to, it's a response to a stress. I don't think any stress is good for a rare species like this, even if it's not a sensitive one.
     
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  11. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how many pairs of Spix they plan to keep in the breeding centre. I imagine this may be off display with only some younger non-breeders on display to the public?
     
  12. Clem

    Clem Active Member

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    The individuals on-show for the moment are 4 young males.
    The breeding center is located not so far from the entrance, and it seems like there is an alley between 2 distincts buildings. I hope that we'll be able to walk on this alley, and see inside through windows.
     
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  13. KevinB

    KevinB Well-Known Member

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    The breeding center is being constructed right next to the remaining old parrot aviaries in front of the aquarium building.

    Personally I think it would be best if they displayed some of these rare macaws to the public to show them to and inform the public about these birds and the breeding programs for them ( i.e. younger animals like they are currently doing) and kept some designated breeding pairs behind the scenes in a calmer environment that would likely be more optimal for husbandry purposes.
     
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