French Zoo Animals

Instructor: Amy Brotschul

Amy has taught all levels of high school French and holds a Master of Arts in Teaching French and English as a Second Language.

Who isn't amazed by the stature of 'use girafe,' the coordination of 'un chimpanzé,' or the majesty of 'un lion?' In this lesson we'll learn the names of zoo animals in French, many of which are cognates.

Zoo Animals in French

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon and your French friends have invited you to visit one of the 300 parcs zoologiques (pahrk zo-o-lo-zheek) in France. You're excited to see the animals, from the largest mammals to the smallest birds. Upon entering le zoo (zoh), you see a map with les animaux (ah-nee-moh) grouped by habitat.

The Jungle - La Jungle

Le roi de la jungle (The king of the jungle)

The first animal you see is le lion (lee-ohn), the king of la jungle (zhuhn gluh). As you walk on to admire the lions and other large cats, les félins (fay luhn), you realize that many of these animals have French names that are very similar to their English equivalents. Words that are similar in English and French are known as cognates.

How many can you recognize?

animal pronunciation translation
un félin fay luhn cat
un lion lee ohn lion
un tigre tee gruh tiger
une panthère pahn tehr panther
un léopard lay o pahr leopard
un guépard gay pahr cheetah

The Reptile House - La Maison des Reptiles

Next you enter the dark house of les reptiles (rep-teel) and other animals that creep and crawl. Don't get scared!

animal pronunciation translation
un reptile rep teel reptile
un serpent sehr pahn snake
un lézard lay zar lizard
une araignée ah ren yay spider
un crocodile kro ko deel crocodile
une tortue tor tü turtle

The Aquarium - L'Aquarium

Un hippocampe (Seahorse)

Just beyond les tortues, you realize you've entered l'aquarium (ah kwar ee um). Here you will not only see des poissons (pwa sohn), fish of all colors and sizes, but plenty of other aquatic life.

animal pronunciation translation
un poisson pwa sohn fish
un réquin ray kuhn shark
un dauphin doh fuhn dolphin
une méduse may düz jellyfish
une raie ray stingray
un poulpe poolp octopus
une étoile de mer ay twal duh mehr starfish
une anémone de mer ah nay mohn duh mehr sea anemone
un hippocampe ee poh kahmp seahorse

The Aquatic Mammals - Les Mammifères Aquatiques

Swimming nearby in their open habitats are some mammifères aquatiques (mah mee fehr ah kwah teek) or aquatic mammals. You have to wonder how un hippopotame is able to float!

animal pronunciation translation
un mammifère mah mee fehr mammal
un lion de mer lee ohn duh mehr sea lion
un phoque fok seal
une loutre loo truh otter
un hippopotame ee po po tahm hippopotamus
une morse mors walrus
un ours polaire oors po lair polar bear

The Aviary - La Volière

Les ours polaires make you think of another arctic animal, les pingouins or penguins. You will find them with their other feathered friends in la volière (vo lee air), the aviary.

animal pronunciation translation
un pingouin puhn gwuhn penguin
un oiseau wa zo bird
un perroquet pehr o kay parrot
un hibou ee boo owl
une chouette shoo et owl
un paon pah ohn peacock
une autruche oh trüsh ostrich
un flamant rose flah mahn flamingo

Des flamants roses (Flamingos)

The House of Primates - La Maison des Primates

The colorful perroquets share their habitat with les lémurs in the house des primates (pree maht), the largest of which is le gorille.

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