Children can sing “Hip Hip Hooray” because a special treat is in store for the under 16 year-olds with the reopening of the Zoological Garden. It has opened on time this June 1 with a special free-day for them.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and it has been 10 months of heart-ache for zoo lovers while they awaited their chance to revisit their favourite spot in Monaco. The wait will have been worth it because they will also get to see new species. The Zoo-keepers have been busy and found 8 new bats from Vietnam and three new types of duck. And who doesn’t love peacocks, those gorgeous colourful, regal birds, whose males compete to astound the females in an explosion of ornamental feathery displays. Twenty new peacocks in a new enclosure await to astound you too.
And not to be outdone the squirrel monkeys have their own new “pad” too to show off. Closed to the public on August 7 last because of the heat wave, and with the need to protect the animals from the heat, the zoo had suffered an attack of agave weevils at the same time.
The pests are not dangerous to humans, or to the animals either, but they can devastate the plants at a voracious pace right down to the roots – and wipe out years and years of planting and beautiful specimens.
So it has had to be treated like an emergency epidemic. Identify the infected plants, remove them and burn them together with their infestation of weevils.
You would have difficulty guessing the extent of the work involved – over 5 tons of plants to incinerate.
When you tamper with nature there are inevitable hidden consequences. Removing the sick plants from the rocky terrain destabilizes the rock surface and there is a danger of rock-falls. Even smaller loose stones can be dangerous.
The rock walls having been “sanitized”, topographical studies have then had to be carried out before being able to reopen the site to the public in complete safety. And guarantee a good environment for animals too.
It was necessary to revegetate the cliff overlooking the Animal Garden of Monaco, and secure it aesthetically with special metal netting – and in an environmentally friendly way.
The Chief of the Palace Gardeners Denis Gerenton and the Director of the Zoological Garden, Laurent Peyronel knew it was necessary to call in the experts. And all that was entrusted to the company Geolithe – NGE Fondations, which specializes in this kind of work. That is what has taken several months and an engineering encyclopedia to understand the intricacies of the two major different types of active and passive securing systems involving anchors and metal netting that they use. Easier to learn the name of the beastly weevil: Scyphophorus Acupunctatus.
The second part of its name gives you a clue to how it kills its victims. Ironic that acupuncture is a healing procedure for us humans! It has been a relatively quiet winter for the animals but they probably won’t be especially surprised by the busy opening with new waves of people. They have always had their friendly zoo keepers at hand.
And animals are like actors – they love an audience, especially an audience that loves them, and especially the children.
So there is an extra reason to go now that all those months of hard work are over, making the environment safe and restocking with plants.
Show the little critters how much we and all our kids love them. Celebrate the reopening of the Zoological Garden. It’s open now.