Longueil-Sainte-Marie. Three months after the bird flu, the future of the Parc du Marais is still uncertain

Faced with bird flu at the end of 2022, the Longueil-Sainte-Marie wetland animal park had to cull all its animals – Credit: Parc animalier du Marais / Facebook

On September 25, 2022, animals die in the waterfall Marais Animal Park of Longueil Sainte-Marie. Tests are formal: this Bird flu. The rules are very clear: all animals must be slaughtered. A total of 2,300 animals are killed. Eric Vincelle, the director of the park, is not followed by the prefectural authorities when he requests that some of his animals be quarantined. “I lost animals worth 100,000 euros,” he said, then dreamed and did everything possible to revive his activity.

Although the bird flu epidemic is more severe than usual in France and also in the department (especially in Verberie or Gouvieux), Eric Vincell really has to do everything to reopen his park. Start by refilling it. But the current context is a brake. In early February, Eric Vincell explains, “I started bringing in birds to prepare for the reopening. But the DDPP (Directorate of the Department of Population Protection) put us under the APMS protocol (prefectural control decision), which is one of the consequences of the current bird flu epidemic.”

After a three-month closure, the park gradually resumed visits. On January 23, everything had to be stopped for 21 days, that is, until February 12. The sale of animals is also prohibited during this period.

“I brought some chickens and ducks,” he continues. There are already more than a hundred specimens in the park. But bird flu is far from 2300 heads. Eric Vincell was “surprised” by the decision, despite the epidemic raging more than ever. The director of the park now looks at his activity with some bitterness: “It’s getting very crazy,” he says. First, “while lying around all the diseases, we see that there are fart foci everywhere and more and more often”, and secondly, “due to increasingly strict regulations”.

“More and more of us are considering hanging up”

– Credit: Marais Animal Park / Facebook

As far as revising his performance? “It is the whole sector of parks like us or the breeders who are reconsidering the question,” replies the director of the Parc du Marais. “More and more of us are considering hanging up the phone. It has become objectively complicated and, above all, risky: you can lose everything overnight.” Longueuil Park paid to find out.

Today, despite this monitoring protocol, the park is trying to revive itself. Once in ten. Even if it means changing activities, changing visiting hours. Because the financial side is also important. “We lost 100,000 euros worth of animals, which insurance can’t do anything about,” he recalls.

If there is a compensation fund (from the state), the man says, “don’t count trying to find out where his file is.” “Apriori, it has already been completed, it will be in the process of approval, but it is impossible to know when we will receive the money,” he adds.

The online pot was turned on when the animals were slaughtered. It brought in about 3,000 euros. “It gave some money for the operation of the park,” said the director. Because even if there are no animals – or now very few – the park has to continue to pay electricity bills, contributions … “And all this without any income,” he concludes. Park’s employment turned into partial unemployment.

One hope: a vaccine

What may give the park director a glimmer of hope today is progress in vaccination. “It’s being tested, it looks promising.” Experiments will be carried out in the hope of achieving mass vaccination of animals. “It’s a real hope for both professionals and amateur birders,” says Eric Vincell.

If the vaccination protocols for September are marked, the park will not wait that long to continue to gradually open. “We will continue the repopulation, but with fewer animals, maybe half,” says Eric Vincell. Due to the recent difficulties, “also, the cost of buying animals, food and other parameters has increased a lot,” he explains. “It’s not a very profitable activity anymore…” concludes the director, exasperated.

The moment of truth may be May 13. The park is scheduled to be fully reopened that day. An event is planned to make this day both an event and a moment of positive communication. The park is considering planning an outdoor screening of adventurer and director Nicolas Vanier’s film. Which was partially shot from the Parc du Marais. An agreement has already been reached on bringing the actors of the film. Name: “Give me wings”. An event that sounds like a prayer.

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