A different kind of zoo in Nouméa
Some 10 days ago, Pablo and I ventured to the Parc zoologique et forestier Michel-Corbasson, a wonderful 36-hectare location full of animals and plants you’ll only find here in New Caledonia. Accessible via a very bumpy, pot-hole-riddled road of 2 kilometres perched on the very tippy top of a hill minutes from Nouméa’s city centre, it is home to a dry forest; kagus (cagou in French), the national bird living in the semi-wild; flying foxes; birds of all sorts (including the New Caledonian crow and the New Caeldonian parakeet); monkeys and peacocks. You will not find elephants or lions or bears here, but you will be enchanted by the expanse, the tree canopies, the foliage, the views and the exhibits. There is a playground for kids tired of looking at forests and animals, picnic benches and a friendly staff.
Our first stop was the kagus, found only here in New Caledonia. When we were here in 2005, there was only 1. Now they have 5 and you can walk through their space (quietly). Fascinating birds (for they both bark and are flightless), they are monogamous breeders, live in pairs and raise their offspring together for a few years before their young leave the proverbial nest. Since 1978 they have been bred in captivity here in the park. They are in danger of extinction from deforestation and predation by mammals introduced to the island (dogs, pigs and rats) and since 1977 are a protected species. The breeding in the park has led to the birth and growth of 100 kagus, which have been partially re-introduced into their natural habitat in the Blue River Park.
And now for some other mystery animals. One may be new, the other most certainly not (but it is displaying a behaviour Pablo and I had never seen before). Take a look at the following 2 photos. What are they of? You can click on the images to get a closer look.
Answers in the comments section below, please! The person who gets both photos right will get a special call out from New Caledonia Today and a visit to the park to see the animals in person (if he/she can manage to get to Nouméa, that is). Answers will be revealed in any upcoming post.
Finally, Pablo and I were very happy to find that New Caledonia has butterflies, several species of which are only found here. The one we saw at the Parc zoologique seems to be a Montrouzier butterfly (or a Blue Mountain Swallowtail), the blue of which we have never before seen in nature. I normally write down the names of things, but we were nearing the end of our visit. We’ll have to go back – and next time see the monkeys and other parts of the zoo (yes, it is that big)! Anyone want to join us?