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Jardin des plantes :

This review submitted by Neils Johs. Legarth Iversen January 2001

The Ménagerie du Jardins des Plantes, Paris, once was a dreadful place, with small cages, rusty wire all over and a terrarium that smelt like an open sewer. I visited it several times during the seventies because it was conveniently placed, close to the Gare d'Austerlitz and to the Jardin des Plantes with its museums and other attractions. But it was not a pleasure to be there. Then somewhere during the eighties the powers that be must have decided that enough was enough, and from then on things have changed dramatically for the better.

Now the Menagerie has become a quite respectable zoo which you don't have to be ashamed to visit. You enter from the Jardin de Plantes (which is in itself worth a visit: a fine park dating bach to 1626). The most distinctive exhibit is now slightly to your left: it is the so called Microzoo, where you can study insects and other small animals in a very pedagogical setting. Absolutely worth seeing, especially if you know some French. To the left of this building you find bisons and anoas (the smallest bovines in the wild), and continuing this way round you pass the reptile house, the vivarium, some birds and deer. The next house to your left is another interesting newcomer, a house for the parenting of young animals that can't be left with their parents for some reason. Further on, along the Seine, you pass the bharals and cangaroo. In this part of the garden there are also one house for the carnivores and another for the monkeys. When you continue and see the nilgai and yaks you are back at the entrance.

Outside, in the Jardin the Plantes, the large building furthest away from the Seine houses a Museum of Natural History, while the smaller building opposite houses the Palaeontological Museunm, with collections dating back to F.Cuvier. The menagerie is not new either: I have read somewhere that it was founded after the French revolution to house the exotic animals from the Versailles Gardens, including zebras and rhinos. Furthermore there is a Vivarium in the rue Cuvier, but I never have visited this place