©Yannick Derennes
Be an animal keeper for the day at BranféréGo behind the scenes in the world of animals
Brittany Experience

Be an animal keeper for the day at Branféré

As day breaks, the Branféré animal park and botanical garden close to Morbihan Gulf gently wakes up. Anaëlle is passionate about her job as an animal keeper, and takes us through the delightful park surroundings where animals roam in semi-freedom. There’s lots to do: enclosures have to be cleaned and meals distributed, while learning more about the animal species from every one of the five continents. It’s a guaranteed thrill, and certainly something completely different!

Right at the heart of the action

The budding animal keepers are greeted by the cries of geese, ducks and gibbons as they make their way in. Badges around their neck, they follow closely behind Anaëlle along a passageway that’s closed to the public and reserved for keepers. In the spacious outhouse, Yohann grabs a bucket of water and Elena takes care of the sponges and scrapers. The cleaning mission for the day is to wash the enclosure windows for the red pandas (bear-cats) and remove the droppings that have been left on the ground. Its’s a job well done when everyone pitches in.

Up close and personal with the animals

Time to fill the bellies of these gorgeous walking, talking teddies! The small balls of bamboo and carrot are ready to go, and little hands are wearing gloves to avoid transmitting germs or viruses. Alicia and Elena safely place a little ball in front of Po and Padma – what incredible luck to be so close to the bear-cats!

A few doorways and padlocks later and it’s now feeding time for the oriental small-clawed otters. The little food-lovers lift themselves up on their paws as soon as they catch sight of the food tins, and they grab their grub “like rockets”, exclaims Elena.


Behind the scenes in the kitchen

Now that the feeding dishes are empty, everyone gets busy in the kitchen watched by a peacock displaying its plumage. The room smells of ripe fruit, and there’s a huge file setting out the animal food rations. Anaëlle reads out the ingredients: “10 grapes here, carrots chopped into small bits in this feeding dish, oranges cut into four pieces here…” Yohann listens carefully and cuts up the apples, and Elena measures out the sunflower and corn seeds into a jug. The prepared food is moved to a cold room, and then they are ready to go.


Home delivery service!

The maned wolves are the first to enjoy the tailor-made meals. The food is boldly tossed in by putting an arm through an opening in the observation cabin, and it lands in front of the snouts of Pedro and Toresa. They’re agile and nimble and grab their food on the fly. The sheer delight of it certainly outweighs any nervousness.

Then it’s the turn of the prairie dogs to get their rations. They rise up out of their burrow to grab the grains and fruit thrown over the low wall. Their resemblance to marmots amuses the young assistant keepers.

Plunge into the world of seals and penguins

We go from earth to sea with medical training for seals.

The penguins are playing happily at the edge of the water while the children, enthralled and with outstretched arms, drop little fish into their ravenous beaks. Yohann is becoming increasingly confident and calls out to them. The feeding enclosure is a mass of seething, twisting bodies, and the penguins put on a real ballet performance as the last few fish are tossed into the water. We learn that they are ‘porpoising’.

“The spectacle of the birds is the best!”

After lunch, where Anaëlle juggles the many questions being asked, there’s a stunning spectacle of birds instead of a siesta. Macaws, hawks and owls fly around the place, watched by eager eyes. Parrots and budgies unfurl the colours of their wings, pelicans stop at our feet, and a tawny eagle swoops by to pinch bread from a spectator while a pink flamingo looks at us disdainfully. A series of admiring ‘oohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ rise up from the audience as the birds return to their aviary.

VIP entry into the rhino house

There’s an entirely different kind of enclosure waiting for us now! As privileged guests, we come to the home of Ajang and Maya as they take a break outside. The bars on the enclosure are the size of the children themselves! We make sure we can get through the metal bars – nothing is left to chance when it comes to safety. There’s a huge heated bath for the Indian rhinos to bathe in. We carried out a little test, and on the XXL format scales we were barely a third of their weight!

Amazed all over again, the children warmly thank Anaëlle. They go on to explore the animal park and its 1200 animals without a guide, their heads full of insider knowledge about monkeys, gibbons, pygmy hippos and giraffes. We cross the walkway to the African plain, excitedly run around the Parcabout® nets and enjoy stroking the wallabies.

It’s a guaranteed thrill, and certainly something completely different!

Practical information

The Branféré centre is today a unique concept in France that combines an animal park, a botanical garden and an environmental education centre – the Nicolas Hulot School – all in one. This educational centre forms part of a sustainable development initiative to raise awareness among the general public of the need to respect biodiversity.

  • The experience is available to children aged six and older
  • The experience can be enjoyed every day from April to November; it must be booked in advance and is subject to availability
  • Clothing suitable to the weather must be worn including closed-toe shoes, trousers, a backpack and a pair of boots
  • Reduced prices are offered on a sliding scale if several people sign up to the experience


Official website of tourism in Brittany