Burgers’ Zoo’s colourful event Día de los Muertos will start on Saturday 14 October. Día de los Muertos is Mexico’s largest cultural event, which is celebrated in almost all South and Central American countries. Visitors of all ages can enjoy festive decorations, sculptures, workshops, and face painted actors playing Mexican music.
In contrast to Halloween, Día de los Muertos is not meant to be creepy. It is all about respecting and honouring deceased relatives and friends, and celebrating life. Our animal park will subtly refer to the story of three famous deceased animals from the park: chimpanzee Mama, an eagle ray without a father, and the poached rhinoceros Vince. Members of our zoo will receive free entrance and all practical information on this event can be found at www.burgerszoo.com/diadelosmuertos.
Three deceased animals each with a special story
Chimpanzee Mama became world famous when she played a leading role in the intriguing book ‘Chimpanzee Politics’, written by the influential primatologist Frans de Waal. He wrote the book inspired by his research on the Arnhem community of chimpanzees. Chimpanzee Mama passed away at Burgers’ Zoo at a very old age. Nevertheless, she had a hugely influential role in the community of apes until the very end.
The next story is about an eagle ray who was conceived in Arnhem without any male involvement! This phenomenon is known as parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction. Parthenogenesis is primarily known to take place with some types of reptiles and fish, but had never been scientifically proven with eagle rays.
And finally, the extremely sad story of rhinoceros Vince, who was born in Arnhem only to be slaughtered by poachers in a French zoo for his precious horn.
More and more international fame
In Hollywood in particular, there is growing interest in the fascinating event Día de los Muertos. November of this year, Disney’s Pixar’s new film Coco is set to premiere internationally. This new cartoon for all ages is solely based on Día de los Muertos and playfully explains the origin and customs of the festival to the (young) viewer.
Actors, workshops, and decorations
This year, in collaboration with Van Hoorne Entertainment and ROC Rijn IJssel, Burgers’ Zoo will have twelve actors –dressed and made up according to the traditional style– roaming the park every day. Visitors can have their picture taken with these colourful extras, who will also be treating them to traditional Mexican music.
Besides this, our animal park will be organising special workshops together with Mexican Georginia Lira. During these workshops, children and adults can make and decorate sculls, design masks, and for example, paint marshmallows.
Besides last year’s atmospheric thematic elements, we will be providing extra decorations. More than 1500 metres of Mexican Día de los Muertos flags will adorn the paths of the park and large wall drawings will be displayed in front of the Penguin Corner.