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Zoo tour in Belgium

Discussion in 'Belgium' started by Hvedekorn, 25 Jun 2010.

  1. Hvedekorn

    Hvedekorn Well-Known Member

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    Yes, as I think I wrote in the zoo list thread, my holiday this year is a trip to Brussels. As you already should know, this is sadly one of the few capitals without a zoo :(

    However, I surely will visit a zoo or two when I'm there. The ones I think of are Antwerp Zoo, Planckendael and Parc Paradisio/Pairi Daiza. I'm going with my parents and we're staying for a week so I'm not sure we have the time to visit all three. In order to give a priority, I've tried visiting the three zoo's websites but when one doesn't know a jolt of Dutch or French (except for the few Dutch words that remind of words from my native language Danish :p), and Google Translate isn't too helpful, I couldn't get much info there.

    Therefore I would ask you:
    Can you rank the three zoos, maybe after following criterias:
    -Accessibility from Brussels via public transportation (I know they're all relatively accessible, but how far from Brussels are you and do you have to switch train etc.)
    -How much time you can spend both judged from park size and interesting exhibits
    -Animal collection (both in biodiversity and species)

    And if you wanna bother, I would like to hear what species and exhibits one may not miss in the three zoos.

    I hope you will help me :)
    If not, I'll just take a "risk" on which zoos to visit :p

    PS These are the three zoos I know I might have the time to visit and are relatively close to Brussels. What about Olmense Zoo and Monde Sauvage Safari? I really doubt I'll find the time to more zoos than the three, but are Olmense and Monde Sauvage accessible in a day from Brussels and are they even worth visiting?

    PPS I hope you can bear with me if my English is quite bad some places in the text - it's not my native languge after all :p
     
  2. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Hvedekorn

    I am able to help you a little regarding this topic. I myself stayed in Antwerpen for two days back in 2006 and saw two of the zoos you mentioned.

    Antwerpen Zoo
    One of Europe's oldest city zoos and a cultural highlight for any zoo-enthusiast. Many historical buildings such as the Egyptian Temple and Great Ape House. You will find it hard to do this zoo in less than a whole day.
    Exhibit highlights
    - Hippotopia
    - Friesland (king penguins)
    - Spectackled bear/coati exhibit
    Rare species
    - Okapi
    - Congo peafowl
    - Mountain gorilla
    - Eastern lowland gorilla
    - Aardvark
    - Plains viscacha
    - Australian water rat
    - Northern brown kiwi
    Transport to
    Antwerpen Zoo is the most centrally situated zoo in the world with its next door neighbour being the Antwerpen Central Train Station. The entrances to the zoo and the station are located about 20 meters apart. You can't miss it.

    Planckendael
    Antwerpens sister zoo is located near the railway line connecting Antwerpen and Bruxelles but it is actually close to the latter. It may seem confusing but it is actually quite easy to get to and Planckendael is nothing fancy but absolutely worth a visit and you can easily spend a whole day there. Best to pick a day with good weather.
    Exhibit highlights
    - Europe
    - Afrika
    - Oceania
    - Asia
    Rare species
    - Bonobo
    - Kordofan giraffe
    - Asian lion
    - Indian rhinoceros
    - Pygmy slow loris
    - Koala
    - Common wombat
    - Short-beaked echidna
    Transport to
    Take a train to Mechelen, a short distance from Bruxelles, and then a bus directly to the park.

    I can highly reccomend both zoos as places to visit and I can't see how it is possible to spend less than a whole day in either place.

    I hope this info helps :)
     
  3. Indlovu

    Indlovu Well-Known Member

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    Planckendael's Asian Lions also have a litter of four cubs
     
  4. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    As Toddy has already pointed out both Antwerp and Planckendael are easy to reach by public transport from Brussels. Parc Paradisio, too, is an easy train journey from Brussels.

    When you book your train tickets, ask for a combined train ticket / zoo entrance ticket; this works out very much cheaper than paying for your train fare and zoo entrance separately.

    I cannot comment on either Olmense or Monde Sauvage as I’ve never visited these collections, but Antwerp, Planckendael and Parc Paradisio are all well worth visiting.

    As you mentioned, Brussels is a capital city without a zoo; yet 130 years after the Brussels Zoo closed, the entrance gates still exist at Parc Leopold, complete with the inscription “Jardin Royal de Zoologie”. A visit to the nearby zoology museum is also thoroughly recommended.
     
  5. Hvedekorn

    Hvedekorn Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all!
    As it's that easy with public transport, I'm sure I'll be visiting Antwerp Zoo now.

    Tim May:
    If it's not too much trouble, could you tell me this two things about Paradisio?
    Can you spend a whole day there like Antwerp and Planckendael?
    Are there any species or exhibits not to be missed (I only know about the shoebills who bred there for the first time in captivity)?
     
  6. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    It’s no trouble.

    Yes, there is plenty to see at Parc Paradisio and you could easily spend a whole day there.

    It is a very nice place and it’s hard to single out a few exhibits but the shoebills, that you’ve mentioned, are my personal favourites there and certainly not to be missed. (Another particular favourite of mine are the kiang.)
     
  7. siamang27

    siamang27 Well-Known Member

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    wait...I figure this is a mistake, but...
    Antwerp doesn't actually have Mountain Gorillas, do they? They're listed on the rare species list a few posts up...

    I thought Paradisio was mainly a bird park, or at least the majority of the collection consisted of birds?
    Personally if I had a choice and had to pick 2 of these zoos I would pick Antwerp and Parc Paradisio.
    Antwerp because it has a lot of rarely seen species, and PP because it has a large bird collection.
     
  8. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Presuming they person selling you the tickets speak english! I had great trouble commucating that I wanted to go to Mechelen beacause I didn't have the pronounciation 100% correct and the man was being very french about it.

    It has been debated for a long time but I as far as I know the conclusion is now that Antwerpen keeps 1.0 western lowland gorillas, 0.1 eastern lowland gorillas and 0.1 mountain gorilla. The mountain gorilla was formerly thought to be a eastern lowland as well. Antwerpen Zoo is the only zoo in the world where you can see other types of gorillas than western lowland.
     
  9. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yes, inevitably, there may be communication problems when speaking a foreign language.

    However, during my recent visit to Belgium, I booked combined rail / zoo entrance tickets from Brussels to Antwerp, Plankendael and Parc Paradisio without any problems.
     
  10. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Well, I bought mine in Antwerpen which is probably a bit less "international" than Bruxelles, so that might be part of the explanation.
     
  11. DDcorvus

    DDcorvus Well-Known Member

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    At both Brussel-Centraal as at Brussel-Midi (South Station) they should speak English. And as for B-rail ticket Zoo Antwerpen/Planckendael/Paradiso (Pairie Daiza is not known yet at the stations :) ).

    All three zoo's you can spend a whole day. Pairie Daiza is slowly changing itself from a bird park into a normal zoo. Their collection is more then worth it to visit. Some highlights: Ganesha, and the boat (it has an amazing tortoise collection which consists all from confiscated animals).
    Many nice birds like shoebill storks, Sumatran elephants, celebes crested macaques and angonoka's.

    And Antwerp has no mountain gorilla both females are eastern lowlands.
     
  12. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Has this been confirmed with a DNA-test?
     
  13. DDcorvus

    DDcorvus Well-Known Member

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    it has been tested but as far as i know the results have not been published. At the moment the Zoo lists both females as easterns.
     
  14. forumbully

    forumbully Well-Known Member

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    Antwerp zoo no longer has kiwis in the collection. not really a shame as they were never visible. nocturnal animals and a common aviary don't mix.

    If you have only 2 zoos to visit, I'd go for antwerp and paradisio. that way you have a traditional monumental zoo and a parkzoo. Planckendael is a nice zoo, but it doesn't have the same landscape architecture that paradisio has.

    other zoos easily accessible:
    - aquatopia: public aquarium next to the zoo.
    - Museum of natural history in brussels. mostly dead animals of course, but also a pretty nice vivarium
    - public aquarium of brussels, haven't been there myself, so don't know what to expect.

    Olmen and Aywaille are accessible by public transport, but not as easy as the above.

    EDIT: some sneaky advertising, but if you go to Zoosite and click on the map of belgium, you get a list of zoos. texts are in dutch, but there is a photo impression (foto impressie) of most zoos listed. maybe that helps you get an idea.

    another EDIT: as said, architectually antwerp/paradisio is the best combination. If you're all about rare animals and much diversity in species too. but if you're an ungulate man, go to planckendael