Once you get out into the wilds of Finland, it’s easy to think you are in the middle of nowhere, but I discovered recently that the small town of Ähtäri, with it’s zoo resort, is actually at the centre of everything. Below are some of things that you must not miss-out on when you visit Ähtäri.
Photo ÄhtäriZoo Panda Lumi3 by Timo Ahopelto
#BeLikePanda or #SleepLikePanda
Since they arrived in early-2018, Pyry and Lumi the giant pandas have become the headline act at Ähtäri – they have even been re-branded, as SnowPandas. They reside in the custom-built Snowpanda House at Ähtäri Zoo, in enclosures that were designed to replicate the mountainside environment of their native China, complete with a stream running down the sloped, rocky terrain.
If you are lucky, you will be there at playtime, when the pandas are most active, padding around both inside and outside, playing with their toys or climbing frames. Or you will be there at feeding time, and see them expertly stripping their bamboo canes and devouring the inside. Making a lot of noise in the process.
It is recommended to buy a combination ticket for the zoo and panda house. This gives you two days at the zoo plus one visit to the panda house. Be sure to take your time, the pandas are not always ‘performing’, they also sleep. A lot. There are benches and bean bags, so you can make yourself comfortable and just hang-out with the pandas. People have been known to stay in the Panda House for hours. #BeLikePanda indeed (although I’m not sure if anyone has taken the #SleepLikePanda hashtag seriously, not yet anyway.)
In Winter 2018, I was commissioned to make a pilot series of a new podcast; The Ähtäri Zoo Podcast. This episode is a selection of stories from the first three interviews with people powering Ähtäri Zoo:
Satu Keski-Valkama, Tourism Development Project Manager
Heini Niinimäki, Zoological Director,
Anna Palmroth, Panda Keeper
I’m sure you will find this a fascinating look, at the workings of a modern-day zoo. If you search for Ähtäri Zoo Podcast on your podcast player, you will find two full-length episodes, with more to follow.
The podcast will be supported by blog posts that highlight some of the unique aspects of Ähtäri; at first this will focus on the zoo but, with your support, it could expand to include the town of Ähtäri and the surrounding area – there is plenty here to show you.
So if you want the series to continue, then we need to hear from you. Whichever episode you are enjoying, please share it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to tag the zoo @ÄhtäriZoo and me @explorefinland and use the hashtag #AhtariZooPodcast. While you’re doing this, why not tell us where in the world you are?
This will help spread the word about this new podcast. It will also demonstrate to everyone in Ähtäri that there is an international audience for this show and it may convince then to continue making it – it’s up to you now.