Saturday, March 26, 2016

"We Have a Zoo?!": The Mid-Year Discovery of the Escher Déi'repark

Samschdeg, 26 Mäerz.

As you all know by now, Luxembourg is a pretty small country. Still, I would never presume to know all of its secrets after only six months. (Case in point: today's delightful discovery of Dudelange Castle!) However, my adopted city of Esch-sur-Alzette is a slightly different story. Despite being the second-largest city in the country, Esch is a pretty small town and after half a year of residency, I've come to feel like I know it pretty well. Need to know about the bus routes? The local schools and churches? The most punny hair salon? I got you. (By the way, it's called "Ryan Hair" and if that doesn't make you roll your eyes and laugh despite yourself, then I don't know what will.)

Although I've heard rumors from my housemates about the existence of a small petting zoo in the municipal park above the train station, I didn't really know what to expect. (The descriptions had pretty much been limited to: "There is a ... you know ... zoo. It has ... you know ... Bambi?") So you can imagine my surprise when, after a full six months of living here, I finally discovered the Escher Déi'repark.

The Déi'repark is somewhere between a traditional zoo and a petting zoo. The animals include typical farm animals like chickens, sheep, goats, and horses as well as slightly more diverse options like deer, Highland cows, and raccoons. In total, there are approximately 140 animals at the park. Visitors to the animal park, which is free and open year-round, can interact with the animals through the fence and even feed them!

As you can imagine, this park is a game-changer. In the words of fellow Fulbrighter, Catherine: "You mean I could have been relieving stress by petting baby animals ALL YEAR?!"

We had been in the park for all of five minutes before I turned to Catherine and said: "You know what? I don't care how much it cost. I need to buy some animal food and I need a baby goat to eat it out of my hand." And then came the best surprise of all. At the Escher Déi'repark, the FOOD. IS. FREE. That's right. In addition to free entry, the animal park comes complete with free paper bags of food pellets to hand off to as many baby deer, goats, and cows as your heart desires. (Just don't feed the sheep: apparently they're off limits.)

And just like that began the best hour of my life.

How could this little face NOT brighten your day?!

Although they probably feel right at home in the windy, rainy hills of Luxembourg, we couldn't believe that the park had a family of Highland cows! (I guess I didn't need to go to Scotland after all...) Equally surprising -- if not quite so large -- was the family of three raccoons living in the park. One of them braved the daylight and peeked out at us from its jungle gym-inspired enclosure.

Fifty percent raccoon enclosure, fifty percent jungle gym, one hundred percent fun.

In addition to the adorableness of the animals, we were particularly impressed with the quality of the park itself. It's very well designed, with cool features like the wooden platform featured below that allows visitors to stand above the deer enclosure. (Just hold on to your valuables. As Catherine warned: "Imagine how embarrassing it would be to explain how you had to buy a new phone because yours fell into a zoo and got eaten by goats.")

Perfect for kids ... and 23-year-old Fulbright grantees!

If you want to visit the Escher Déi'repark for some free animal-feeding fun of your own, it couldn't be easier! Although there is a parking lot just outside of the zoo, it is also easily accessible via public transportation. The Déi'repark is located just above the Esch-sur-Alzette train station, about a ten-minute walk through the scenic Parc Municipal Gaalgebierg.

And if you've already been to the Déi'repark, get excited for a return trip because the maaaaaarmots are finally here! (The Luxemburger Wort has the scoop about their arrival.)

1 comment:

  1. Those little deer were precious! The jungle gyms for the animals are very cool! Cox Farm out to do something like this.