Saturday, August 28, 2021

The equatorial dome

We live a stone's throw (about 2 miles as the eagle flies) from one of the Loire Valley's biggest attractions. It's not a château, but a zoo. The ZooParc at Beauval, just outside Saint-Aignan, has become a world renowned zoological park since its creation in the early 1980s. Just this year, the zoo announced the birth of two giant pandas and opened its newest attraction: le dôme équatorial, a huge steel and glass structure that maintains an equatorial climate year round for the 200 or so species that live inside. I don't mean to sound like a tour guide. Check out the above links if you're interested.

The dome and aerial tram seen from the vineyards on the heights above the zoo.

I remember the first time I saw the dome from our car window, wondering what the heck is that! Later I learned it was the zoo's newest exhibit space along with an 800 meter long aerial tram that traverses the zoo grounds. The dome looks like a spaceship that landed in the mostly agricultural landscape we live in. But it manages not to dominate the views as it's only visible from certain places.

Another view from a little further away. The zoo sits in a small valley just south of Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher.

I haven't been to the zoo since these new attractions opened. In fact, the last time I went was back in the summer of 2011 with visiting friends from California. Has it been ten years already? I'm sure I'll go back one day.


  1. The zoo looks amazing. We, also surprisingly, have a world-class zoo here in Fuengirola. But, it’s in the city, so not much room to grow and much more contained than yours (i.e., no room for pandas). I would love to see Zooparc in person. Thanks for the links.

  2. It does seem to fit into the landscape well. If it was bronze on the outside, even more so,

  3. It's a great zoo and even better now that there are pandas!

  4. Oh, I haven't checked in on those pandas since they were born! I hope they're doing well.
    What an unexpected structure to see out in the distance, from your vineyards!

  5. Traveling to the area with our children we have visited the Beauval zoo often! We love the bird show! It is indeed the best zoo we have ever visited.

  6. It does have an ET vibe to it. Has anyone checked to see if there are strange beings out and about in the dark hours?

  7. mitch, I've been to the National Zoo in DC and the San Diego Wild Animal Park (not the zoo), but I never went to the SF zoo in all the years I lived there. I'm glad I've been to our local zoo.

    travel, I wonder how that would look!

    evelyn, The last time I went, the panda enclosure had just been built but the pandas were not yet viewable.

    judy, we can't see it from where we are, but it's there!

    lynn, yes, the bird show is impressive!

    emm, there always are. lol.

    1. We visited the SF zoo in ’99 and found it very depressing. I’ve heard it’s improved since then. We lived within walking distance of the San Diego Zoo. We’d walk over to visit one or two animals and have lunch at Albert’s Treetop restaurant. At night, we could sometimes hear the lions roar.

  8. dear me that is striking !


Pour your heart out! I'm listening.