After two liquidations, the Pont-Scorff zoo is reborn with the Terres de Nataé

The first days, a very limited gauge had been established. For the teams to break in. But above all so that the animals slowly get used to seeing the public again, those who had been living out of sight for several years. In bad shape due to the serious financial difficulties of the Pont-Scorff zoo, placed in compulsory liquidation, its residents had seen the Rewild association take care of them for a little over a year. Before the structure is also placed in liquidation. Taken over a year ago by a Breton entrepreneur, the famous Pont-Scorff zoo (Morbihan) has become an animal park. A week ago, the one called Les Terres de Nataé opened its doors to the public after a year of costly work. And so far, everyone is fine.

Five hundred people the first few days. Then 1,000 for the first weekend. Since its reopening on June 14, the animal park has found its public. Visitors who had seen the condition of animals in captivity deteriorate in 2016 and 2017 when the zoo was struggling to feed and care for them. To put them back in place and offer them a new cozy cocoon, we had to wait for the arrival of a local investor capable of investing 7 million euros in renovation work. “Initially, I had planned a budget of 4.5 million. But the materials went up in flames and we didn’t want to reduce our ambitions,” explains Sébastien Musset, buyer and director of Terres de Nataé.

This Asian elephant lives in the Les Terres de Nataé animal park, formerly known as Pont-Scorff zoo, in Morbihan. – Julien Dujardin

The former director of Arkea was one of the first to submit his project when the takeover led by Rewild had fallen apart. “I have always been driven by a passion for animals, by the desire to help preserve them”. This love was born at a very young age when the Costa Rican saw his parents divorce when he was a child. “I had a lot of animals, they offered me comfort. But I had to take care of it. This feeling of usefulness helped me a lot”. Tired of working for large groups and “ego issues”, the entrepreneur founded Les Terres de Nataé and hired around thirty employees to run the animal park. Above all, he has spent a lot to provide the most comfortable living conditions possible for the 300 animals he houses. With a very personal look at captivity. “I want to rely on scientific facts. We didn’t make this park to have fun with this or that animal. We did it to be useful to species, to help preserve those that are threatened with extinction.

“I dream of breeding”

When the site reopened, Sébastien Musset “said no” to the structure which offered to accommodate polar bears. But he kept the Asian elephants “to try to save them”. He released the herons, birds of prey and storks “which have nothing to do in captivity” to better take care of the hyacinth macaws which are threatened with extinction. “I dream of breeding and considering a reintroduction into the natural environment”.

This sand cat is housed at Les Terres de Nataé animal park, formerly known as Pont-Scorff zoo, in Morbihan.
This sand cat is housed at Les Terres de Nataé animal park, formerly known as Pont-Scorff zoo, in Morbihan. – Yves Ndiaye

In 2019, several NGOs including Sea Shepherd had raised 700,000 euros in donations to take over the then abandoned zoo. Carried by the voice of Hugo Clément, the project had received a benevolent response, particularly from defenders of the animal cause. The financial and administrative problems had quickly resurfaced, forcing the justice to pronounce a new judicial liquidation. Candidate for the takeover, Sea Shepherd was ultimately not retained by the commercial court, which preferred the offer of Sébastien Musset. “I’m not one to say that zoos are horrible. Yes there is. But you have to know how to surround yourself, work in a collective. If I have to point out an error of Rewild, it is to have wanted to do everything alone”.

For a week, the inhabitants of Morbihan have found their animal park. With summer approaching, more and more visitors will come to the site. But the director warns: there will never be a crowd at Terres de Nataé. Sébastien Musset is aiming for an attendance of 120,000 people for this first year of operation.

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