Situation of Egypt's Giza Zoo Needs Improvement
    2013-03-30 09:29:22     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Wang Wei

A mother holds her daughter in her arms to watch the camels in the Giza Zoo. [Photo: blog.sina.com.cn]

For Egyptian families, the Giza Zoo is an affordable place to take the children and see the animals. For tourists it is a place to while away the hours and see the lions. But with Egypt's tourism dwindling, now the animals in Giza Zoo are being affected.

Zhang Wan has more.


  

They say an elephant never forgets. And at Giza Zoo, feeding the elephants no doubt provides a memorable experience for children. The two old elephants at Giza Zoo are perhaps the most iconic creatures there and are at least 60 years old.

Built in 1891, the zoo is based on the design of London Zoo. Located on the western side of the River Nile, the zoo covers about 80 acres of green land, and is home to many rare animals and plant species.

The zoo contains about 175 different species of mammals, birds and reptiles. It is a popular place for Egyptian families despite the decline in Egypt's tourism. Sayed Hussein is a visitor at the zoo.

"My children's favorite animals are the monkeys, lions, elephants and the seals. I guess they are loved by all children."

And while the zoo remains popular with families, activists say the conditions at the zoo are getting worse. Some of the animal enclosures are in need of upgrading and more should be done to improve animal welfare.

Giza Zoo recently introduced some new animals to the Zoo such as a rare Asian white lion and three African giraffes replacing the late African giraffe that died back in 2002.

But activists such as Dina Zulfakar say the zoo should focus on upgrading the enclosures for its existing animals, and not spending limited resources on new arrivals.

"Some enclosures, they need urgent attention, the elephants enclosure, the chimps enclosure, the bears enclosure. They have to be rebuilt, or making new enclosures, it's out of the question in Giza priorities. Why spend the money on new arrivals when we didn't fix the problems we had before?"

The zoo lost its membership of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums when a polar bear died in 2004 after it was unable to cope with Cairo's hot climate.

The zoo's Brown Bear died in 2008, and now the zoo is restricted to only keeping Black American Bears.

Zulfakar says the cages for the animals are too small, and the cooling system for the bears does not work properly.

But the zoo says that more than 35 veterinary physicians take care of the health program designed for the animals.

Director of the zoo, Dr. Fatma Tammam says that while the zoo is not regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, it is still unique.

"People are always misled in the ranking of Giza Zoo amongst the international zoos. First of all, there is no international ranking for zoos. The international zoos are classified due to their own design and architecture. Giza Zoo takes second place amongst all zoos in the world after the London Zoo for its unique design; followed by an American zoo that has the same design as both London and Giza zoos. Giza zoo takes the British Victorian style as its design. Here in Egypt, people think that this means that we are the second best zoo in the world which is completely false. There are lots of open zoos, safaris and other wonderful wild places. But Giza Zoo remains unique for its history - it opened in 1891. "

Giza Zoo, a zoological garden in Giza, Egypt, is one of the few green areas in the city, and includes Giza's largest park. As well as being home to many endangered species, the zoo also has a wide selection of endemic fauna.

Rare species have been successfully bred in the zoo - including the first Californian sea lion to be born in the Middle East in 2002.

In terms of the zoo's facilities, the gardens include roads paved with black stone flags from Trieste, footpaths decorated with pebbles laid out like mosaics, and a pond with a marble island that is now the zoo's Tea Island.

The zoo also includes a suspension bridge that lets visitors view the animals from above, which may have been the first elevated viewing area at any zoo in the world.

For CRI, I am Zhang Wan.

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