News>Travel - Experience the world through Pairi Daiza
The Mersus Emergo, a replica of the English whaling vessel used in the 1800s, is on display next to the elephant and girrafe habitats at Pairi Daiza in Brugelette, Belgium.(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice)
Pairi Daiza guests feed Madagascan lemurs during their visit to the park. Guests can see more than 4,000 species within the 140-acre zoo and garden oasis.(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice)
by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/8/2012 - PAIRI DAIZA, Belgium -- Having a brother that lives in Belgium, I have tried to visit him as much as possible since I've been in Italy. And while the home of NATO Headquarters or more importantly in my mind Belgian chocolate, waffles and great frothy brew, has many wonderful and exciting places to visit, the one that tops my list is Pairi Daiza.
Located in Brugelette, Belgium, Pairi Daiza, meaning "enclosed garden" is a 140-acre zoo and botanical garden that sends visitors on a journey around the world through such places as Africa, China and Indonesia.
With more than 4,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, the animal park is like no other in Europe, housing these species in a natural environment mirrored after their native lands. Animal exhibits include the Oasis, a 7,000 square meter greenhouse that includes a variety of exotic animals and plants; Falconry Village, which includes several aviaries for birds of prey and a daily show; Algoa Bay, a sanctuary for South African seals and penguins that can be viewed above or underwater; the Nautilus, a "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" themed habitat; and a Giraffe and Elephant habitat housed next to the Mersus Emergo, a replica of the English whaling vessel Mersus Emergo that was used in the late 1800s. Displayed inside the vessel is a World Wildlife Federation exhibit on the mistreatment of animals and the zoo's rescue center for reptiles.
For those with children looking for a more interactive experience, the park also includes a petting zoo (with the typical petting zoo animals) and timed feedings of South American monkeys and Madagascar Lemurs. Children can also play in the large outdoor 5,000 square meter playground or in the indoor greenhouse playground complete with mazes, an obstacle course, tunnels and slides. Both areas include large suspension bridges for bigger children (adults included).
Outside of its animals, the other major appeal of Pairi Daiza is its massive landscape with worldly displays. Added in 2006, "The Dream of Han Wu Di" garden is the largest Chinese Garden in Europe, complete with Chinese themed infrastructure, waterfalls, plants, and animals to include red pandas. The park also features the largest Indonesian garden in Europe called the "Kingdom of Ganesha" that spans 9.9 acres and the Mura Mura Territory, a roughly 2.5 acre space recreating the Australian and New Zealand landscapes.
This year's park debut includes an African theme (the park's biggest investment to date) transporting visitors to the coast of West Africa complete with hut village on stilts. Other additions this year include new playgrounds for the park's sea lions and elephants, the island of colobus monkeys, additional forests and gardens and the indoor playground mentioned earlier.
According to the park's website, guests timing their visits just right can also take part in the park's Indonesian Festival on May 6 and the resurrection of the legendary beer Abbey of Cambron and launch of the park's own beer in June. (The brewery due to a portion of the park once belonged to the monks of Cambron.)
The park is open from March to November and tickets cost 19 euro for children age 11 and younger, 24 euro for adults and 22 euro for senior citizens. The park is about an hour drive from the Brussels or Charleroi Airports. Those stationed at Aviano can catch a flight to Brussels from Marco Polo Airport or to Charleroi from the Venice Treviso Airport. It is about an hour and a half flight. For more information on Pairi Daiza, visit the park's website, www.pairidaiza.eu/fr/index. If you type the address into Google translate, and select French to English it will translate it for you.