Le Jardin des Plantes is a large garden which houses one of the oldest zoos or menageries in Europe; it dates back to the 18th century. It is also an extensive garden with lots of exotic plants, an orangerie, lots of benches and playgrounds. It has guided tours and various exhibitions. In march there are already lots of green leaves and grasses, and many shrubs and trees begin to bloom.
We walked all over the menagerie. Lots of animals are outside, and as we came during feeding time, we saw yaks, bulls, deer, mountain goats, horses, donkeys, lamas and even a tapir happily running to the troughs or heaps of straw and munching contentedly. One of the most fascinating birds in the aviary was of course the snow owl which sat on its perch and regularly turned its head around without moving the rest of its body. “Look ma Harry Potter’s owl!” was an inevitable excited comment. Naturally we had to visit the monkeys, where we could stare in wonder and awe at the huge “King Kong”, the orangutan. While he sat there moving very slowly and lazily, his female partner, a much smaller creature, dashed around chattering behind her glass door.
There is also a nursery where various lost and found, abandoned or sick animals are brought to recuperate. For the first time in my life I saw the armadillos, those quaint animals which resemble nothing on earth. They look a bit like squarish turtles with four short legs positioned on the corners of the armour, and a short tail. They must be very inquisitive animals, since their heads move around non-stop. While we looked at the pair of them running around one after the other, seemingly in pursuit, and marveled at their friskiness, the (as we realized belatedly) male finally caught up with the female and began to mount her from the behind. We let them copulate in peace and tactfully left the enclosure.
On our way to the exit, we saw what was clearly a fox, very flexible and agile. Its pelt was not red, nor white or silver, but rather multi-hued, making it easier for the cunning Renard to blend into the surroundings.
Thus two hours were spent peacefully, and a good time had been had by all. On our leisurely stroll back we could also observe little humans yelling gleefully and running our of the sheer joy of life, watched indulgently by their parents.