Pairi Daiza celebrates its 30th anniversary

Pairi Daiza

A unique place

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In Old Persian, “Pairi-daeza” means “enclosed garden” or “orchard protected by walls” in the sense of “paradise”. Multiple times awarded the title of “Best Zoo in Europe”, Pairi Daiza is much more than a zoo. Since its establishment in 1994, the park has continuously transformed to become an evocation of the wonders of the world and to promote harmony between animals and humans.

Pairi Daiza welcomes its 2.3 million annual visitors into the utopia of the lost paradise that everyone tries to rediscover. In this open-air museum, animals and plants coexist harmoniously with minerals and human artistic and architectural creations. Across 75 hectares, Pairi Daiza restores the beauty of landscapes by evoking the spirituality of peoples while respecting the arts and crafts of those regions. The combination of authentic buildings, fauna, and flora immerses visitors in China, Southeast Asia, Japan, Benin, Togo, Antarctica, Australia, Northern Europe, and Canada.

As Belgium’s most visited paid tourist attraction, Pairi Daiza has also been awarded three stars in the Green Michelin Guide. Sleeping accommodations overlooking polar bears, walruses, penguins, and Siberian tigers won the “Best New Hotel Concept” award for Belgium and the Netherlands in 2022.

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Some numbers

7.500

animals

Over 100

semi precious stones

Over 30

Pairi Daiza Foundation projects

Pairi Daiza

30 years for the benefit of biodiversity

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Eric Domb (born on November 11, 1960) is the founder and chairman of Pairi Daiza. His parents, a surgeon and an art historian/Egyptologist, are both passionate about gardens. Graduated in Law, Finance, and Business Administration, he loves to travel and garden. As a child, he devoured works by Jack London, Jules Verne, Pierre Loti, Conrad, and Henri Vernes.

This fervent advocate for animal welfare discovered the Domain of the former Cistercian Abbey of Cambron, founded in 1148 in Brugelette, at the age of 32. Impressed by this neglected location, he decided to abandon his career and build the park he had dreamed of as a child. Despite financing problems, he succeeded, with the help of the only banker who believed in him, in establishing Park Paradisio, which, after a difficult start, became a real success story.

Paradiso was initially a beautiful bird garden with 2,500 birds of 400 species in 1994. Especially in a cathedral aviary that still today remains one of the largest in the world with its 15 meters in height and 100 meters in length. That year, 165,000 people visited the park.

In 2000, a tropical greenhouse housed the park’s first small mammals. A year later, the neoclassical castle from 1854 became the setting for the aquarium, where today more than 4,000 animals live.

From 2003, the park has been rescuing reptiles and amphibians abandoned by their owners or seized by authorities.

Driven by the fascination and love his family, especially his mother, has always had for ancient Chinese culture, Eric Domb realized one of his first dreams in 2006: welcoming his visitors into an authentic Chinese garden. Chinese gardeners worked with him on this 4.5-hectare garden, laid out according to the centuries-old methods of landscape art. The Buddhist temple follows the same approach: consecrated by a Venerable close to the Dalai Lama, this temple was built like six centuries ago by the same craftsmen who are participating in the restoration of the Forbidden City, with its thick wooden columns and its Buddha carved in camphor wood. The authenticity of this Chinese garden, the largest in Europe, was appreciated by, among others, President Xi Jinping and his wife who visited it in 2014.

The same process was followed for the design of the Kingdom of Ganesha (2009), The Land of Origins (2012), The Southern Cape (2015), The Last Frontier (2019), The Land of the Cold (2020), and The Islands of the Rising Sun (2024): the other worlds of the park.

In 2010, in order to better align with the founder’s desire to offer more than just a zoo, the park was renamed “Pairi Daiza”. A name inspired by Old Persian, “Pairi-daeza”, which means “enclosed garden” or “orchard protected by walls” in the sense of “paradise”.

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A childhood dream

Eric Domb

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I do indeed fulfill a childhood dream, but beyond that, we wanted to create a place that would reconcile humans and nature. That’s why in each continent, you’ll find not only animals and plants but also minerals and other natural wonders, but above all, humans: architecture, poetry, craftsmanship… I’m a bit in contradiction with the traditional approach of zoos, which often tend to oppose humans and animals: the buildings are purely functional, there’s no integration of both worlds, and that’s not our approach. I’m among those who believe that continuing to present nature conservation as a system that needs to rid itself of humans is not realistic, nor forward-looking; it’s highly guilt-inducing. Personally, I think that if we want to raise awareness among people about the need to take care of our planet and fight against the disappearance of life on Earth, it must be done through love and wonder.

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Pairi Daiza

So much love, so close

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Love, and particularly love for animals in the broadest sense of the word, is the driving force behind the action that the Park aims to unleash for the protection of biodiversity and the wonders of the world. Pairi Daiza’s mission is to raise awareness among the public about the challenges of protecting the planet.

Pairi Daiza is a committed enterprise that acts concretely for the protection and conservation of species. By participating in about a hundred European breeding programs (EEP), by creating enormous and tailored habitats for each species, and by constantly offering varied enrichments to the animals.

The veterinarians of Pairi Daiza and the 80 caretakers take care of the 7,500 animals every day. The zoological department performs preventive veterinary medicine, treats minor ailments, and performs surgical procedures. Regularly, sometimes daily, the teams prepare our protected animals for interventions with medical training. They also conduct analyses of air and water quality to ensure the best living environment for the animals. And they watch over the well-being of the most vulnerable, such as newborns and older animals.

Pairi Daiza is much more than just a zoo or a garden of worlds; it is a place of impact, an awakened dream where every visitor is called upon to play an active role in the preservation and enrichment of life on earth.

Pairi Daiza is not just a tourist attraction, but a transformative space that, through beauty and wonder, encourages concrete action for the protection and conservation of nature. It is a commitment to create, day after day, a living project that evolves with and thanks to the community around it, fueled by the love and determination of those who carry it.

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75

hecatres

2,3

million visitors in 2023

93.786

solar panels

Pairi Daiza

A park that will soon be 100% green

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“The respect and protection of nature have always been a priority since the establishment of Pairi Daiza. Pairi Daiza has set itself the goal of becoming 100% green by 2034. A huge milestone was reached in 2020 with the commissioning of a gigantic solar panel carport. This was doubled in 2023. Today, 93,786 solar panels produce 39,800 MWh of green energy per year, equivalent to the average consumption of 11,350 households. The park is net self-sufficient and the surplus of green electricity (about 30% in 2023) is fed back into the Belgian grid. Pairi Daiza thus actively contributes to national decarbonization goals.

An Organica water treatment plant has been in operation since January 2023, the first of its kind in Belgium, capable of treating part of the wastewater, partly with the help of plants.

At the same time, Pairi Daiza gradually optimizes all its consumption and integrates the most efficient sustainable technologies for new projects or adjustments of existing installations, in all areas of activity. Among others: LED technologies, heat exchangers, highly efficient glazing, heat pumps, geothermal projects, artificial intelligence, etc. Careful separation of 50 types of waste (compared to 15 in 2018) is also an integral part of the process.”

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