I feel a certain way about the zoo. I don’t go to the zoo because I don’t want to look at wild animals in confined boxes looking back at me with the pained eyes of a creature in captivity. But then someone showed me this photograph of a polar bear sharing his backyard with a beautiful log cabin in the woods and well … things got a little more complicated.
I found myself unsure and conflicted when I looked into the Safari Lodge of Zoo de la Flèche, a 14-hectare zoo that opened in 1946 in the Loire Valley of France. Two years ago, the park ventured into the world of luxury hospitality when it began expanding the enclosures of their polar bears, grizzlies, wild tigers and wolves, so that guests could spend the night.
With room service on call and all the comforts of a 5 star luxury hotel, guests can treat themselves to a very unusual and private extended encounter with the animals. The price tag of course isn’t cheap, starting at €369 per person during the low season for the Arctic lodge, which appears to be already booked through 2018 (although the Grizzly lodge still has some availability in 2018, as do the white tigers and the wolves).
It’s certainly not what I’ve witnessed in city zoos, I’ll give it that. The animals look like they have pretty spacious enclosures within a rural region of France, and it’s worth considering that many of these species are now threatened in their own habitats by poaching and climate change.
For most of us, the conflict can be quite easily solved by the price tag. But if money were no object, would you book a room inside the polar bear’s den?
Mull it over here and let me know in the comments.