However, we were reminded that we were indeed amongst wild animals. The magnificent male lion started a series of deep-throated roars that reverberated around the Parc, blood-chilling even in the bright mid-day sun; nobody was arguing that he was King of the Hill , surveying his harem of lionesses from the top of a pile of boulders. As we progressed around the Parc, we heard him again and again. So too did the nearby small deer and other animals that normally would have been his prey. They were protected, as we were, by those same natural barriers, designed to allow the best viewing experience for us, but to ensure that the animals stayed within their designated areas.
Later, another chilling moment, when one of the large apes threw his weight around, literally, starting with a rising crescendo of screeching that saw his companions moving swiftly away, giving him plenty of space. Whatever set him off we don’t know, maybe another male within the internal enclosure, but he hit that high metal sliding door with all his might and even from the opposite end of the area, the eager line of camera-pointing onlookers, including us, took a sharp step backward. These experiences certainly added to an already special day.
Personally, we were very impressed with the whole concept. Inspired designs, attractively thought out; the very enclosures with huge natural trees, boulders, running waters, deep fish-filled water channels, plunging waterfalls, were picturesque enough in the sunshine, even without the animals. The wooden walkways, quirky tunnels and viewing areas, glassed-in peepholes, etc. all added to the experience. The animals, healthy looking and with loads of interesting spaces to move around in, were, of course, the stars of the day.
Bizarre to sit in the sunshine sipping a drink, with a young giraffe just metres away across a water barrier and there, only some 80 metres or so behind him, again with clever use of landscaped, rock barriers and moats, the maned head of that same male lion, looking across, it seemed, an open area.
We heard many languages from a variety of visitors, young and old, who all seemed as thrilled and impressed as we were. A group of excited young local school kids, with their valiant teachers, got a great kick out of watching a very young ape. Bored with the rest of the family, dozing in the sunshine, he suddenly rushed around causing mayhem, flicking earth and gravel over one of his older siblings and then receiving a clip around the ear for his trouble – it couldn’t have been better choreographed for the kids – and our – enjoyment.
10 out of 10 to Angela Woodhouse and the TCET team for organising a highly memorable day; to Irene Turvey for raising 100 euros with the handknitted poppies from our generous U3A travellers on the coach; a punctual, comfortable coach journey, and to Valencia City for putting together such a well-planned attraction. Opened in 2008, we’re delighted we finally got to see it. We plan to take future visitors and would recommend it as a “must see” for anyone visiting Valencia.
(more photos in the Gallery)