Madagascar, Australia, South America... There' s no need to take a plane to discover endangered fauna from the four corners of the world. Visit the zoological reserve at Calviac, in the Pays de Fénelon, and discover 200 animals belonging to 30 different species.
A safe haven
Accompanied by a couple of friends and their 2 toddlers, this sunny Saturday morning is ideal for discovering the Calviac's Zoological Reserve, in the Perigord Noir. Guillaume welcomes us warmly in an old stone house typical of the Sarlat region, built against the rock and nestled in the heart of a quiet and lush forest. The tour has already begun...
"Mummy, Daddy! Quick, quick, I want to go and see the monkeys!"
The wait is unbearable for Charlotte, who immediately hurries us along the landscaped pathways. This animal temple was conceived from the passion and determination of Emmanuel Mouton , former chief animalist at the National Natural History Museum. Opened in 2008, the sanctuary is divided into "regions of the world" in which you have the opportunity to get away from it all and meet some little-known animals. In close contact, or almost, because we can actually enter the universe of some of these tiny creatures, much to the delight of Charlotte, whose eyes shine brightly.
"This monkey is so cute..."
On the tropical rainforests of Madagascar
Not a monkey but a Madagascan lemur, and a crowned lemur at that! These cuddly toys, full of life, approach us fearlessly and a carer, Eléa, arrives to give them something to eat; the mother lemur, with her two young cubs clinging on to her back, easily wins the affection of our young lady.
"Can I stroke him?"
Eléa, who has just finished feeding the Makis cattas, easily identified by their long striped tails, explains to her that no, it would be better not to, for the best interest of these animals that have been collected by the reserve for the biodiversity conservation mission.
We're on our way again, South America here we come!
Now we discover Golden Lion Tamarins and Goeldi monkeys, Sakis and Black-headed squirrel monkeys (Saimiri). We reach the large space that the Capybaras (largest land rodents) share with their strange co-occupiers, South American Tapirs and collared Kamichi, who loudly express their displeasure at being disturbed in their peaceful surroundings.
The whole family has a lot of fun trying to feed the large cattle whose nostrils make Charlotte really laugh. The proximity to these protected species both fascinates and surprises her.
"His nose looks like a trumpet."
Not far away, we spot the animals' kitchen where the caretakers are busy preparing the bowls for the next meals. Each animal, herbivore or carnivore, such as the Maned Wolf or the Wolverine, benefits from a very particular diet, which must be respected with great precision. The Reserve calls on supermarkets, market gardeners or other local producers to recover their unsold stock in so avoids wastage.
We meet Melvin and Nathan, 2 young volunteers who came to learn, help and contribute to the missions of the non-profit making organisation . We also learn that another volunteer has gone to Switzerland with the owner of the site to collect partridges for a European breeding program (EAZA - European Association of Zoos and Aquariums) in order to maintain, amongst other things, viable populations.
A cute little hyppopotamus
A multitude of animals from all 5 continents awaiting discovery in semi-liberty in the middle of the unspoilt wooded hillside, including Andean Pudus, Wallabies, European Mink, Victoria crowned pigeons, Margays or Fossas, the first animal to arrive here 12 years ago.
But the star is the newcomer called Lani, a pygmy hippopotamus who wades proudly around her pond! The site has been enlarged especially for her and a few antelopes.
"I would like to go swimming with him, he looks very sweet!"
At the end of the visit, we don't forget to vote for the conservation programme of our choice (a part of our entrance ticket will be donated to this project). Charlotte makes her own choice:
"I choose... the mother with her two babies on her back" (the crowned Madagascar lemur)."
And we finish by indulging ourselves with a cool drink. Charlotte would love a little souvenir... but will Mummy give in?
The opportunity to see 200 animals in semi-liberty and to meet a respectful, attentive and available team impatiently waiting in Calviac-en-Périgord to take you on an incredible voyage amongst animals from all around the world!
Good to know!
Sous le Roc 24370 Calviac-en-Périgord ; +33 5 53 28 84 08 ;
Discover the website Réserve Zoologique de Calviac
- Allow about a 1H30 visit to complete the 1.5 km circuit.
- Up to 15 commented feeds a day
- Quizzes, a treasure hunt and workshops for children.
- Evening visits every Monday from July 15th to August 19th.
- Become a caretaker for a day (reservation necessary)
Find out more about experiences to live in Dordogne-Perigord: download the brochure