Pairi Daiza logo
View of the park
|Location||Brugelette, Hainaut, Belgium|
|Land area||55 hectares (140 acres)|
|Number of animals||4,000+|
|Annual visitors||900,000 (2009)|
Pairi Daiza (formerly Paradisio) is a privately owned 55-hectare (140-acre) zoo and botanical garden located in Brugelette in the province of Hainaut in Belgium. The zoo is located on the site of the former Cistercian Cambron Abbey, and is home to over 4,000 animals.
Pairi Daiza is owned and operated by Pairi Daiza Belgium SA, a limited company listed on NYSE Alternext Brussels (code: PARD). It is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
In 1148, Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux (later Saint Bernard), sent 12 Cistercian monks to Cambron at the invitation of Anselm of Trazegnies, who had offered them land at the edge of the river Dender. After the abbey was dissolved, the family of the counts of the Val de Beaulieu purchased the property and built a castle, which remained in the family until purchased by the Domb family, who founded the park. The entire property has been a protected area since 1982. 
The zoo was opened in 1993 as a bird garden named Paradisio. By 2000 the zoo included the Oasis, a large greenhouse that was home to other animals including meerkats, otters, and alligators. In 2001 the zoo opened the Nautilus (aquarium), the Madidi Islands (squirrel monkeys), and Nosy Komba (lemurs), followed by Algoa Bay (brown fur seals) in 2002.
The zoo created a series of suspension bridges in 2004 that let visitors see the exhibits from above. The "Dream of Han Wu Di" opened in 2006, and is the largest Chinese garden in Europe. A series of aviaries opened in 2007, showcasing raptors.
In 2009 the zoo opened the 4-hectare (9.9-acre) "Kingdom of Ganesha," an Indonesian themed garden. It also changed its name to Pairi Daiza, which means "walled garden" or "orchard protected by walls"—the oldest name for paradise.
- Algoa Bay
Algoa Bay is home to the zoo's South African fur seals and penguins. Visitors can watch the animals from above the water, or from an underwater viewing area where they may come face to face with residents of the exhibit.
- The Nautilus
Te Nautilus is an exhibit that is themed after 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It includes exhibits with coral reefs, lagoons, and tropical waters, and is home to sea urchins, starfish, anemones, crabs, and jellyfish. Visitors can touch the stingrays, and can watch sharks, moray eels, and barracuda.
- The Cathedral Aviary
- Mersus Emergo
The Mersus Emergo exhibit is a replica of the English whaling vessel Mersus Emergo that was used for 40 years, from 1870 to 1914. The exhibit opened in 2003 and includes the SOS Biodiversity exhibit, created in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which highlights current threats to the planet and ways in which visitors can take action to help minimize these threats. The "ship" also includes the zoo's rescue center for animals such as pythons, boas, iguanas, turtles, and alligators which were handed over or abandoned by former owners who could no longer care for them. The exhibit includes a touch pool for sharks and skates. The lake and island surrounding the exhibit is home to giraffes, hippos, zebras, and antelope.
- The Oasis
This 7,000-square-metre (75,000 sq ft) greenhouse with waterfalls includes tropical plants such as bamboo, vines, banana trees, and hibiscus, and is home to animals including giant turtles, otters, meerkats, hornbills, and crocodiles.
The zoo is home to five Asian elephants and one African elephant. The elephants are allowed to walk among the visitors, at random intervals to avoid too many people trying to come and see them. Although they are always with a trainer and caretaker, visitors can get close enough to touch the elephants, and there is some controversy over the safety of this practice.
- Falconry Village
This attraction opened in 2007. There are several large aviaries for birds of prey including osprey, bald eagle, Steller's sea eagle, African fish eagle, caracara, Andean condor, kites, snake eagle, eagle-owl, and many types of vultures.
- Chinese Garden
The Chinese garden, also called "The Dream of Han Wu Di," has been open since 2006. It is the largest Chinese garden in Europe, and in addition to its Chinese themed buildings, waterfalls, rocks, and plants, it is home to cranes, red pandas, and muntjak.
- Kingdom of Ganesha
The 4-hectare (9.9-acre) Kingdom of Ganesha, which was opened in 2009, is the largest Indonesian garden in Europe, and reproduces the plant life and feel of the Indonesian archipelago, particularly Bali. Its collections include Pura Agung Shanti Buwana Balinese Hindu temple, East Nusa Tenggara and Toraja traditional houses and miniature replicas of Borobudur and Prambanan temples. In August 2009 the Indonesian government has sent a pair of Sumatran elephants to enliven the Indonesian Park. It is the first endangered animal breeding loan program that Indonesia ever had in Europe.
- Rose garden
- Andalusian garden
This garden near the park entrance is inspired by Moorish patios and the palaces of Spain. In addition to plants including ferns, fig trees, persimmons, and albizia, this garden includes many ponds and fountains.
- Olive garden
The collection of plants in this garden was originally part of the Ghent Flower Show. The garden includes olive plants, fig trees, a cork oak, and a large patch of lavender which attracts butterflies.
Future plans of the park include Lost Horizon, a project that will focus on the Incas, and Thousand and One Nights, a project in which Moroccan craftsmen will turn the Oasis into an oriental palace. Pairi Daiza will also host 2 giant pandas for 15 years as from April 2014.
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Media related to Pairi Daiza at Wikimedia Commons