They have Emys orbicularis!!! :-D
Orbicularis, the European pond turtle, is the one species of aquatic turtle that is native to Europe. We don't have them around here, obviously :-) but they're in central Europe, and further south. They are such cool-looking turtles - they don't resemble any other species - and I had never seen them in the flesh. When parks, botanic gardens etc in Europe have chelonian residents in their ponds, these are almost always red eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) which is an American species. IMO they should focus more on our native species, since we do in fact have one (a lot of people are not aware of this). I had never seen orbicularis before and I was PSYCHED. :-D It just absolutely rocked. The Ark has twelve of these animals - there's one adult pair, five juveniles (almost babies), and five babies. Awww ... !!
These little guys were just so unbelievably cute. I could hardly tear myself away. :-) I wanted soo much to pick one of them up but on the two indoors enclosures they were in (one for the juveniles and one for the babies) there were signs saying that 'the animals are delicate, do not touch!'. So I didn't pick them up. I just put my hand to the edge of the water and let them approach me themselves if they wanted. (I know, I know, don't say it. ;-) They wanted! Some were tougher and more forward than others, of course. And all were incredibly cute!!!
Some pictures from the juvenile enclosure. Look at orbicularis!! How cute is orbicularis!! :-D
Me being bitten by Emys orbicularis:
Awww ... !!!
I have to say, though, that security was pretty shoddy just there. If I had had adequate supplies for transport with me it would have been no problem for me to walk out of there with an orbicularis or two. Unless they had security cameras there that I couldn't see. Of course I would never do such a thing. :-) Seriously, I never would. As much as I would love to have an orbicularis. But imagine all the unscrupulous people out there ... !! :-o(Photo credit: first, third, fourth from top: me; second, fifth from top: KAS)