Arcachon Zoo, Gironde visitors guide
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The zoo du Bassin d'Arcachon is one of the largest zoos in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region and is about 10 kilometres south of Arcachon, in the commune of La Teste-de-Buch. The zoo is home to more than 800 animals and covers an area of 22 hectares.
Explore Arcachon Zoo
On entering the zoo you immediately set too on a trail to see animals big and small from around the world. With large emblematic animals like rhinos and elephants and more unusual species such as red pandas and Malay Tapirs there is lots to see. Your visit follows a four kilometres circuit passed the animals.
The trail keeps geographical areas of the world distinct so that you can see animals grouped with others from their region of the world. As a result rhinos appear twice in the zoo: you can see both Indian rhinoceros and the larger African rhinoceros.
In places the path is raised above ground level, perfect for giving you views of sleeping bears or putting you at head height with the beautiful giraffes. When you enter the zoo you have the option of buying bags of natural popcorn to feed to some animals and you will definitely want to in order to feed the giraffes which come over to lick popcorn from the hands of visitors with their incredibly long tongues: a real highlight of your visit!
There are a large number of big cats in the zoo with tigers, leopards, jaguars and panthers. There is also a very ghostly white tiger and a group of white lions.
There are many rare species with Malayan tapirs, orangutans, snow Leopard and giant anteaters amongst them. The zoo belongs to a breeding programme between zoos and aims to encourage reproduction of species in danger.
In some areas, like the new African bird house and the lemurs enclosure, the path enters the enclosure and the birds and animals are all around you. Certainly interesting when the lemurs are feeding and chattering at high decibels!
In the afternoon there is a programme of animal feeding times set out on a blackboard so that you can be there to see the animals been fed. Some of the animals have their food hidden in order to keep them active both mentally and physically as they search for it. This attention to detail is encouraging from an animal welfare point of view and indeed the animals seem well cared for.
Parts of the zoo are a little rough around the edges and some enclosures look a little bare of vegetation but much planting has been done recently and more continues. Of course, a balance also has to be struck between lush vegetation and the ability for visitors to actually see the animals.
Information boards at each enclosure provide detailed information about each animal and their habitats and at the end of the visit there is a room devoted to information about conservation of the animals.
The zoo continues to expand regularly. This year saw the opening of the African bird house and last year the arrival of African elephants. It is open every day from April to the end of September and Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and holidays in October and early November.
At the end of the visit there is also a picnic area and a cafe selling sandwiches and snacks.
Places to Visit Nearby
The lovely seaside town of Arcachon is nearby and you can visit the Ville d'Hiver to see charming 19th century villas. Le Moulleau on the edge of Arcachon is another seaside town with a great atmosphere and slightly further down the coast is the awesome Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe.
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Dune du Pilat: grand site of france (6 km)
- Bassin d'Arcachon: site of natural beauty (11 km)
- Etang de Cazaux et Sanguinet: site of natural beauty (11 km)
- Île aux Oiseaux (Gironde): site of natural beauty (13 km)
- Domaine de Certes: site of natural beauty (15 km)
- Biscarrosse: ville fleurie 4* (21 km)
- Etang de Biscarrosse et Parentis: site of natural beauty (26 km)
- Parc zoologique de Bordeaux Pessac: zoo or wildlife park (42 km)
- Mimizan clocher-porche (monuments on French pilgrim routes): heritage site (43 km)
- Mimizan: ville fleurie 4* (43 km)
- Landes de Gascogne: regional natural parc (44 km)
- Bordeaux: secteur sauvegarde (50 km)
The French version of this page is at Arcachon Zoo (Francais)