The Zoological Park of Paris is an urban zoo located in the Bois de Vincennes on land belonging to Paris City Council. Built on approximately 15 hectares on a triangular plot, the site is bordered by Avenue Daumesnil, Avenue de Saint-Maurice and the Lake Daumesnil ring road.
Inauguration in 1934
In March 1932, the City of Paris gave the Museum 14 hectares of land in the Bois de Vincennes, near to the Lac Daumesnil. Ménagerie director Professor Edouard Bourdelle drafted the programme. Building work on the zoo was entrusted to Charles Letrosne (who later became head architect for the universal exhibition of 1937). This was to be a modern zoo drawing on the scenic elements of the Stellingen zoo, such as boulders and ditches used to conceal the technical construction work. Yet the aim was not to stage the animals, nor to recreate their habitats by geographical area. A zoological structure, deemed to be the most scientific, was applied, and animals were grouped by family: Ursidae, Felidae, Primates, Ungulates, etc. Work began in 1933. The Paris Zoo was officially inaugurated on 2 June 1934.
A success proved unimaginable
In the first year, 5 million visitors rushed to admire 1,800 animals including 1,200 birds and 600 mammals. The great boulder, sweeping up 65 metres high, was an authentic illustration of technical prowess, and became the park's symbol. A double spiral staircase and lift allowed visitors to travel up to the panoramic viewpoints. Various mountain animals frolicked on different plateaux.
Time took its toll on the structures, resulting in deterioration that threatened the zoo's survival. With the exception of the Great Boulder restaurant, by the end of the 1990s, no significant renovation work had been carried out on the zoo. A decision was made to save this publicly cherished heritage site. The zoo closed its doors on 30 November 2008, with all animals except for a group of giraffes and greater bamboo lemurs finding new homes in various animal parks in France and abroad. Six years later, the zoo has undergone a real metamorphosis and opened its door again in 2014.