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Since 2010 the Animal Park of Sainte-CroixLocated in Rhodes on the Moselle, offers its visitors the opportunity to stay overnight.
A total of 35 “nature lodges” are available. They allow those who want to spend a night in the center wolvesfrom deerfrom black bears and American bison.
But what are these unusual shelters to make at a time when animal welfare is a real societal issue? To get an idea News from Lorraine spoke to thatAssociation Animal Code and the main interest, the animal park of Sainte-Croix.
animals under control
According to Clément Leroux, the park’s communications director, the animals at Sainte-Croix “benefit from conditions more akin to wilderness than captivity.”
As for the wolves, for example, which visitors can see from their lodge, the park official says they benefit from a “natural environment.”
The strength of Sainte-Croix is that the wolves have a wild territory for them that they know very well. They’ve always known there are visitors and shelters, but they still find their balance. Why ? Because it’s their territory and they’re territorial.
He also specifies that the wolves “are not disturbed by the noise coming from the huts. On the contrary, they are so curious that they approach.”
And for the animals that don’t want to show themselves, Clément Leroux insists that they are not dragged outside the huts by force.
In the wolves’ territory, the animals can retreat to “hidden” areas at any time if necessary. We never force an animal to be present in this or that place. For example, lodge tenants may not see wolves immediately. As a territorial animal, it decides when to mark its territory and show itself.
Animals “that don’t know stress”
The black bears share several hectares with American bison and benefit from so-called “enrichments”. The same applies to deer, which use several hectares and coexist with other deer.
Mixing species is a good thing because that too can be seen in nature. This enables interactions in particular. Without forgetting the “enrichment” that consists in improving the well-being of the animals and instilling that wild side. This includes activities, rest areas, places where we hide food to stimulate it…
Clément Leroux assures us once again: The animals in the park are “not dissatisfied and are not stressed by the lodges and their visitors”.
Animals are not interested in lodges. They live their lives, move, eat, have a love affair… Born with the lodges, they live their lives in the wilderness of Sainte-Croix. No negative effects are observed. We have a very strict animal control regarding the welfare of our animals. And the test results are excellent.
For her part, Alexandra Morette, president of the association Code Animal, has a fairly clear opinion on the issue of the lodges.
Animal Code, of course, is against natural huts. Because while there are no scientific studies on this question, we know that being in close proximity to humans can have negative effects on large predators. They become very, very alert, smelling odors they are not familiar with. All of this leads to some form of stress.
Another issue pointed out by Alexandra Morette: the ethical issue related to captive wildlife. Here, in her opinion, animals become objects of entertainment intended for a wealthy class of society.
In Sainte-Croix we keep wild animals in captivity and we will favor a certain number of people who can afford such a stay, the cost of which is high. At no time do we strive for animal welfare. It is a customer experience of trading. We only think that the customer will be satisfied, not what the animals might feel. Especially since they have no breathing space: they see people during the day, but also at night. Animals have become consumer goods.
The best pedagogy, “it’s nature”
If Clément Leroux insists that the Sainte-Croix Park makes it a point of honor to teach particularly about endangered species, Alexandra Morette believes that this is not enough. “Education is about seeing animals in their natural environment, not animals in captivity where the environment is artificial and created by humans for humans.”
The President of Animal Code is also responding to the “fortifications” for animals. “An admission of defeat for zoos,” she says, “because animals don’t need that in nature.”
One thing is certain: if our two interlocutors are in favor of animal welfare, their opinions remain completely opposite.
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