Hi everybody !
We are now well in November and the zoo visiting season is nearly over in Europe, but not for Photozoo! I spent an extended weekend at the end of november in north-eastern Italy and neighbouring western Austria to visit some great zoos and private collections. Amongst the zoos, Parco Natura Viva and Alpenzoo Innsbruck stand out as being very interesting for the quality of their exhibits and, concerning Alpenzoo, for the many new rare species provided ! Alpenzoo Innsbruck, alone, brought me more than 20 new species !
One of the numerous European kingfishers (Alcedo atthis ispida) bred at Oasi di Sant’Alessio, in a fantastic natural exhibit.
But the public collection I was most amazed by was Oasi di Sant’Alessio, located near Pavia, in northern Italy (close to Milano). The park houses a great number of very rare species, many of them being native to the area, and the others are mostly South American. Animals under human care are not the only interesting thing in this park as wild species, including very rare treats such as the Pygmy cormorant (Microcarbo pygmaeus) can be found on the park’s grounds year round. Many European species such as European black stork, European bee-eater, Common kingfishers and others have been reintroduced in the wild after being bred on regular basis at Oasi di Sant’Alessio so hats off to the owners and workers of this amazing structure ! I strongly urge you all to check it out and support their great work !
I also spent time in private collections, the most memorable being the amazing Monticello breeding center, located north of Milano, close to the mountains. There is found one of the world’s biggest private collections of owls and nocturnal birds of prey, featuring many rare species (a few of which I had never seen before). The center isn’t open to public and an appointment must be scheduled before visiting. The owner and director, Enrico, is passionate and very welcoming. I had a blast there and was really amazed by the surroundings, the collection, the beauty of these animals and the awesome breeding work (a Pel’s fish owl hatched while I visited the facility).
The very rare and distinctive Band-bellied owl (Pulsatrix melanota), kept and bred at Monticello breeding center !
Finally, I would like to give my sincere congratulations to the team working for Spider’s nest company, organizing spider expos around Europe. I was lucky to visit the expo in Bolzano’s nature museum and I must say it is by far the best spider expo I have ever seen. The collection is impressive (over 50 species displayed, many rare ones), the exhibits are way better than average and the signeage and posters very instructive and educational. So hats off to Spider’s Nest for the great work !
Photographer Joel Sartore, founder of the National Geographic Photo Ark, and myself, during a Photo Ark photoshoot at the Bolzano Nature Museum, for the great Spider’s Nest expo.
Now is time to go back to Asia for a three weeks trip, mostly for lectures and conferences but also for photography. I will give a presentation on National Geographic Photo Ark at the SEAZA conference in Manila and then will tour mainland Malaysia to give lectures about wildlife conservation and education on conservation in zoos and universities. This trip has been made possible thanks to the support of the Green Teen Team Foundation so a great big thanks to them for their support and generosity !
More updates to come when I will be back from Asia, in early December ! Until then, don’t forget to browse the updates zoo and species pages on the website !
Pierre de Chabannes
Founder, Photozoo project