“Tuesday is going to be the warmest day of the spring so far”, that was the headline of the last weeks paper, so of course we had to plan something to do outside. So I, my sister and her little girl went to Ähtäri Zoo. It’s less then an hour ride from our place, so we visit there quite often, but this was the first visit for my niece. The morning didn’t look anything like the weather broadcast, it was windy and foggy and raining a little bit. But when we got to Ähtäri it had brightened up and it was getting warmer. The wind stayed with us all day so it wasn’t as warm as they promised but good weather to stay outdoors anyway.
Ähtäri zoo has mostly animals from Finland but there are some foreign species too. Endangered species like the snow leopard or takin from Himalayas are there for conservation and breeding to keep the species alive. Ähtäri Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world by area so the animals have quite large areas for them. This also means that sometimes the animals can be a bit further away from you and the distance you have to walk is longer than in many other zoos. But it is a nice way to spend a day. You walk a route (1,5km or 3 km) that runs through the forest and the cages are located in pretty natural environment.
On our visit the roads were still quite snowy and wet, but otherwise it is really easy to go around there even with baby strollers. It was also quiet when it comes to number of people, so we got to watch the animals really privately. My little nieces absolute favorites where the wild boars; she could have stayed by their fence watching them the whole day.
The brown bears had also waken up from their winter sleep and they were really active, especially the triplets that were born last year. My favorite animal, the wolverine kept itself hiding this time even they are normally pretty active creatures. We had nice lunch brake next to the waterfowl’s winter house so we were able to watch the birds while eating. There are also fireplaces in few places along the road in which you can have a barbecue if you like and in the summer time there is a small cafeteria half way the route. Our one year old first time visitor was able to stay awake the whole round but after staring quietly at the red panda in the last cage she fall asleep in the stroller before we got to the car.
Next year we have to visit there again since the giant pandas are arriving to Ähtäri before the end of this year. Ähtäri zoo has made an agreement for research and conservation of giant panda. I can’t wait to see those adorable creatures.
In Ähtäri Zoo area there are also lots of other things to do. Last year they opened a domestic animal farm just beside the zoo, but unfortunately in this time of year it was open only during weekends so we couldn’t visit there. Also a flow park, where you can go test your climbing skills in the summer is located in the area as well as a hotel, restaurant and a small spa.