Essone. In the footsteps of Saint-Vrain Animal Park that has delighted families for 25 years

Opened in 1974, the Saint-Vrain (Essonne) zoo has mesmerized thousands of Ile-de-France families for 25 years with its many wildlife and recreation. (© Saint-Vrain’s Town Hall)

Lions, zebras, giraffes, monkeys… it was opened about fifty years ago St. Vren (Essone) At the instigation of Charles-Renেনে de Mortemart, owner of the St.-Vren estate, a. The zoo Of the modern 130 hectares Beneath the castle.

After several years of operation, the park has been transformed into an exotic landscape with its artificial pond, welcoming its first visitors on March 14, 1974, who went on a safari to discover half a thousand animals in their car (at Thoiri Zoo). Freedom ..

Star animals

Many families and kids take advantage of this beautiful walk quickly to school, which ensures a complete change of scenery to admire the animals, some of whom have become stars like Leon and Leontine, two hippos or Charlie the Rhino.

Cars and buses follow each other while driving from sector to sector. The animals were accustomed to seeing this broom in the vehicle and someone came to beg for food. Even the monkeys get in the car and pull the door seal.

Elizabeth MerchandPresident of the St.-Vren Association and its history
In the early years, the entrance was significantly increased before reaching 20 francs for adults, 12 francs for children, 46 francs for adults and 36 francs for children.
In the early years, the entrance was significantly increased before reaching 20 francs for adults, 12 francs for children, 46 francs for adults and 36 francs for children. (Facebook / Dennis Charter)

Since its inception, the park, which has a population of 3,000, has experienced rich development. Like cats, the arrival of new animals and innovations are included, such as boat trips.

Television show and filming of a movie with Jean-Paul Belmondo

Two years after its opening to the public, an inauguration was held in 1976 in the presence of the Duke of Orleans, TF1 presenter Yves Maurice and comedian Thierry Le Luron.

The following year, actor Jean-Paul Belmondo went to the park to shoot a scene from the film The animal t Claude stubbornly managed.

A few weeks later, Guy Lux and Simon Garnier present the show on the site Games without borders Broadcast on Antenna 2, where the new city Ivory represents France against other European nations.

Video: Currently on Actu

Innovative new animation

In the years that followed, the park continued to innovate. In 1981, a prehistoric section was set up so that visitors could see life-size replicas of dinosaurs and prehistoric males.

There was also a carnival with the Automata Theaters that told the fairy tales of Comtesi du Berry and Jean de la Fontaine, “recalls Annette and her story, a volunteer from the Saint-Vেনren Association. .

In 1986, the monorail circuit was inaugurated so that visitors could see prehistoric animals from above.

On top of that about 600,000 visitors come there every year

The excitement around the park is such that it has become the most visited tourist site in Esson and welcomes more than 600,000 visitors each year.

On some weekends like Pentecost or Easter, there was so much traffic that many roads in the village were blocked. The park has created a lot of jobs, especially for young people in and around St. Brain who used to work there as seasonal workers during the school holidays.

Elizabeth Merchand

“It simply came to our notice then that the animals had escaped from the park. It was not uncommon to see swans in a garden or even kangaroos and llamas roaming the villages, “said Elizabeth Merchand.

By 1977, cats had developed semi-independence in the park, roaming in cars.  Due to the new security standards, they had to join the siege.
By 1977, cats had developed semi-independence in the park, roaming in cars. Due to the new security standards, they had to join the siege. (Facebook / Dennis Charter)

Financial difficulties condemn the animal park

The collapse of the animal park was marked in the 1990s, which was plagued by major financial problems.

In 1998, the site became the “Botanical and Zoological Garden” in an attempt to find a second wind. The safari and the big cat end, the park then wants to save money.

Nevertheless, success is not there and despite the reduced entrance fee, the park is avoided by visitors. It will close its doors in 1999 next year.

    Elizabeth Merchand, president of the St.-Brain Association and its history.
Elizabeth Merchand, president of the St.-Brain Association and its history. (© News Essonne / TF)

A park that has remnants

Since then, the animals have left the place to visit other zoos like Thori and the site has been abandoned, which attracts lovers of urban or arbex exploration.

On site, nature has regained its rights but still cages, dinosaur sculptures, electric fences, barbed wire fences, but it is possible to separate several buildings of the veterinary service and the old education farm.

There is also a time information panel that instructs visitors to keep car windows closed at the entrance to the wildlife sanctuary, as shown in this 2018 video.

Little visibility on the future of the site

For the future of the site, “it’s very vague”, recognize the volunteers of the St.-Brain Association and its history.

“There was talk of building a holiday resort, a nature reserve, a lemur park and more recently a gourmet restaurant,” they list without confirmation.

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