We have been so excited by the amount of fantastic places we have discovered since we moved to Vaud. One of our local standbys is La Garenne, a small zoo in Le Vaud not far from where we live.
It’s a nice drive up there through the countryside and there is free parking just across the road. We have a family pass which costs CHF 84.- so we go quite frequently.
Just through the gate is with a small insect house which Jude is just starting to become interested in so we spend some time marvelling at the strength of the ants before heading over the see the wolves. They are a bit elusive and we don’t always see them but it’s fun trying!
From there we follow a treetop path which I really love and look for the animals hiding below and we always enjoy the wild pigs wallowing in the mud.
The next enclosures are open so you can go inside and see the mountain goats and birds up close. Alba found this lots of fun and spent an impressive amount of time trying to have a conversation with a small goat she took a liking to. He probably understood her as much we do at the moment ;-).
We pass the coypu on to the sheep and goats before we reach the ducks, owls and the fox which we have actually never seen.
It’s really nicely laid out and has a natural feel about it with a focus on nature and conservation.
The staff are really knowledgeable and came up to explain a bit about certain animals while we were watching them. It’s expanded since we went last year and they have added more animals.
The toilets are eco toilets and quite fun for the children. I managed to get in there with the double pushchair when I went on my own once but I can’t remember if there are changing facilities.
Just before the end of the tour there is a nice playground with a zip wire, climbing frames, slides and swings. Most of the games are a bit too young for small children which ours always find frustrating but Jude was able to get more involved this time. There is a nice cafe with indoor and outdoor seating which serves meals as well as snacks and ice creams. I like the gift shop too which sells a nice selection of toys (wooden, card etc) as well as some local produce which I am always excited to see.
The other thing to mention is that the zoo set up a foundation so there is a big focus at the zoo on preservation and the protection of rare species, educating about the environment of animals and showcasing animals native to Switzerland. They also look after wild animals in danger and can also telephone them if you find an injured animal and they will tell you what to do. I believe in some cases you can take them to the zoo but you have to call first. I found this really useful as I was never sure what to do if I found a wounded bird here.
It’s a nice outing with nature at its heart and a good educational experience for all.
Parking : Yes (Free)
Toilets : Yes
Baby Change Facilities : No
Accessibility : Suitable for pushchairs
Website : https://www.lagarenne.ch/