Jardin des Plantes Paris, Endangered Guinea Hen
Jardin des Plantes, Paris, endangered Asian stork with month old chick.
Dejeuner sur l’herbe, Jardin des Plantes, Paris , 20 mai 2014
Jardin des Plantes, Paris, Lupines and Lavender May 2014
Today we visited the Jardin des Plantes, the botanical garden in Paris, with its lovely vistas, formal gardens, and wide paths, and its small zoologial collection of endangered species. Probably the most spectacular parts of the animal exhibits were the huge collection of endangered bovines – gaurs, yaks, and various antelopes among them – and the whole row of owls, one larger and more impressive than the last, until we reached the huge and impressive snowy owl.
We kept trying to follow signs pointing to an exhibit of an unpronounceable primitive horse, but that animal proved elusive. I hadn’t realized that this species still existed, and perhaps it doesn’t, as we couldn’t find its habitat in the colletion, despite the tempting signs with arrows. However, we did find a large ass from the south of France, a “baudet.”. Its main use prior to World War II had been to breed with draft horse mares, to produce huge mules capable of pulling enormously heavy loads. But after World War II, in France as in other parts of the world, farmers turned to gasoline rather than equines to power their equipment. So the horses and asses became almost extinct, and still exist only because of the extreme efforts of dedicated conservationists to retrieve the species from the edge of disappearance. This ass was really impressive – as tall as a horse, with a huge head and with dreadlocks falling down its sides, like petticoats.
Because of their universally endangered status, all the animals we saw were new and different in our experience. In the context of creation and universal creativity, it expanded our understanding of the amazing and sometimes quirky variety of creatures dwelling on earth. Our Creator could be said to have a sense of humor. This visit to a small zoo dramatically expanded my mind’s eye picture of the Ark and its passengers!
I think Paris is more densely and variously populated than New York. The buses were crowded all day long – a work day (Monday), as were the sidewalks, the cafes, and, yes, the garden and zoo. There were many people of all ages and a wide variety of ethnicities from different continents. I took a picture of a scene that reminded me of the dramatic expanse of picnickers lying on the grass in Seurat’s painting “Dejeuner sur l’herbe.” The clothing styles are updated, and the river is missing, but otherwise it was essentially the same scene 130 or so years apart. Paris doesn’t change so much!