The Royal Ménagerie
The Ménagerie is part of the Jardin des Plantes, a vast complex that includes the Botanical Gardens, the Natural History Museum and many study collections of minerals and fossils.
Located at the northwest side of the Jardin des Plantes, the Ménagerie is France’s oldest public zoo. It was created in 1794 during the French Revolution to house the four survivors from the Royal Ménagerie of Versailles. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), most of the animals were slaughtered to feed the hungry population.
Today, the Ménagerie specialises in small animals and displays more than 1,800 animals in simulated natural habitats: 240 mammals, 390 birds, 210 turtles, crocodiles, lizards and snakes, 140 amphibians, and 900 insects, crustaceans and spiders. The Ménagerie has become a favourite place to visit for children.
All the buildings of the Ménagerie have been listed as Historic Monuments by the French State in 1993.
In the centre of the Ménagerie stands the rotunda, the zoo’s oldest building (1802-1812) with a shape referring to the cross of the Légion d’Honneur. It houses a Micro Zoo with microscopes to discover the world of the smallest creatures.
Other buildings include the Reptiles Gallery (1870), the Bear Pit (1805), and the Great Aviary (1888). During the interwar period, other structures were built in Art Deco style: the Vivarium (1926), the Monkey House (1936) and the Wild Animals House (1937).