A STROLL AROUND NORDIC FLORA AND FAUNA: ÄHTÄRI ZOO
Everybody has seen at least once in a lifetime the movie “Into the wild”: the willingness to live in harmony with nature, according to its rules, forgetting about being a human and trying to be more an animal, in a positive way. That movie has fascinated several people, but despite this, nobody will have the strength to imitate the challenge.
And yet, nowadays there are a lot of places which could bring us into the wild. One example is Ahtäri zoo. I’d rather call it the house of the animals in the middle of the forest, because it’s not just a zoo. The place, indeed, combines different interests and attracts many visitors for different reasons.
First of all there is a track in the forest of about 4 kilometers, simply to admire the landscape and the woods. Is it not true foreigners come here to experience Finnish nature? It’s so different from the one we have in continental Europe, so mighty but at the same time so welcoming. If you are worried about something, everything will be cleared out by this peace and quiet, and immense beauty. It’s difficult to explain, but your soul, witness of the view’s vastness, feels the usefulness of being troubled for any longer.
In the middle of this stroll, your footprints encounter the ones of the animals. They are not there without a reason. Mainly you can find animals typical of this area, meaning that the zoo has a focus. Except from some special guests we are going to talk later, animals living in Northern Europe and in Finland are the majority of them. You can also know better the relationship between Finns and animals, thanks to information present about each species. Did you know Finns used to exchange foxes’ fur as money or to pay taxes? Or that the bear is the national animal of Finland? In the past, it was even believed to be a sacred animal, so nobody could pronounce its name. Additionally, who could think that in the past Finns lived with wolves, which helped them hunting?
This is what you can learn about Finnish history and animals, without reading it on a book, without listening to somebody, just having a stroll in a bio-park, because that’s what it seemed to me, a natural park of marvels.
There are a lot of animals, but I didn’t put their pictures on purpose: the reindeer, the bison, the Eurasian lynx (the only feline in Finland, which risks extinction) are worth seeing; your curiosity should not be satisfied by pictures. By the way, in my opinion, the most beautiful animal is the snow leopard. I didn’t take a picture of it because the lens would have destroyed the brightness it released. This made me really thoughtful, indeed. The snow leopard risks extinction because of climate change, like many other animals which are in its same situation, some of them for the overheating, some for the pollution caused by men. Maybe this zoo is the right place to make you understand how much we can contribute in saving our planet and our beautiful animals by changing our behaviors.
However, the core of Ahtäri zoo in this period is two special guests coming from a land very far away from Finland. Go and meet them, they are so lovely. Actually, when I had the opportunity to meet them, they were a little tired for the journey, but I’m sure you’ll have the chance to make a better acquaintance.
Despite being into the wild, this place reminds you of Finland, the real one, the one a visitor and a foreigner wants desperately to see when it comes here. Well, he/she can’t be absolutely disappointed by this place. From the grill to cook makkaras in front of the elk fence (for people who don’t know what makkaras are, I leave them with the doubt. Let’s say there’s nothing more typical in Finland than eating makkaras in the forest), to ice-cream kioski on a river lake. You should discover the rest by yourself; try to find Finnish typical characteristics in every place, also in this magic Ahtäri zoo.
However, the place I found really revealing, more than the others, is the farm. Maybe because I’m attracted by old things belonging to the past, maybe because I love to visit what is typical of places, maybe because before I’ve never seen in zoos common animals, I mean animals we are used to. Why distinguish between animals? Cows, sheep and horses deserve the same credit of other animals; maybe more, because it’s thank to them we can have milk, cheese, etc. All of them are in a farm, a common farm you can find in Finnish countryside, but this doesn’t make it less special.
The smell, the wood troughs and a reconstruction of an old farmer’s house are just some of the places you can visit. There were even women dressed up in an ancient way who took care of the animals! The simplicity of everyday life exposed there is a symbol of what tourism here means: get into contact with real way of living, with daily work, with nature and animals.
I would like to finish with this beautiful image, three cows eating from the same spot.
I will never stop saying Finland is a country a person has to discover, because we don’t know enough of it, except from the fact there is snow and Finns eat potatoes. For this reason, I advise you to come and visit these places in the countryside, where you can see nature and villages.
You’ll surely fall in love with this country, as I did, and you’ll never regret being lost in the forest in the first place.
Blogtext is written by Giovanna Tanzi from Italy, who is working for Leader Kuudestaan, Youth Power project during summer 2018.