Wild birds and animals just one hour from the centre of Athens… The Attica Zoological Park is the only zoo in Greece and it opened in 2000 by Jean-Jacques Lesueur, a French man who had created a large and unique bird collection. In search of a place to host this collection, Mr Lesueur created this park and later included not only birds but also animals. We spoke to Mrs Caroline Lesueur, who narrated us to the story of Attica Park.
"The Park opened in May 2000 by Jean-Jacques Lesueur, who lives permanently in Greece since 1969. Since Athens was the only capital that didn't have a zoological park, and in combination with his love for animals, he was inspired to make something that was missing from Greece. The Park opened at first as a Bird Park and hosted the third largest bird collection in the world".
Are there any species that are not hosted in the park?
Of course, it would be impossible to host all species that live on the planet. But we host many of the most representative species of every continent. In particular, there are about 1,200 animals from 400 species.
About how many people visit the park every year?
Last year, we were visited by 290,000 people and this year we expect to reach 320,000 visits. From these, 70,000 are children and about 12,000 visitors get free entrance.
Tell us a few words about the educational programs you organize.
Our educational programs are organized under appointment and they address to children up to 4 years old. There are 11 different programs for various ages and themes like night birds, parrots, farm animals, monkeys, animals of the Greek forest or lions. These programs include a small tour of feeding the animals. Children have fun and take active part. Moreover, there are educational programs in children parties, where children learn about various animals.
Given the serious threat of some species to extinct, which is the role of a zoological park for their protection, in your opinion?
The role of the zoological parks is probably more important than we have realized. Attica Park, as a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, participates in about 40 European programs for the reproduction of endangered species. Through these programs, the endangered species are taken care of by a coordinator, who registers their population, makes sure that genetically-compatible couples are distributed to zoos and publishes rules how to take better care of the species. Moreover, the zoological parks host some species that are in serious danger of extinction and, when this is possible, we organize their release to nature with the help of ecological teams. Zoos can also help to make the public sensitive and aware of the environmental protection.
The Attica Park is open from 9 in the morning till sunset