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By Published: December 18

CAIRO — The giraffe committed suicide, an Egyptian newspaper reported. And the government pulled a former zoo director out of retirement to deal with the resulting media storm.

“The problem is with the press,” Nabil Sedki said on a recent afternoon, taking a deep drag on his cigarette as he settled into a giraffe-patterned armchair in his office. He was five days into the job. “The media fabricated the suicide.”

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The giraffe in question was a 3-year-old named Roqa, who, Sedki said, inadvertently hanged herself earlier this month after getting tangled in a wire inside her enclosure.

The state has launched three investigations — one purely forensic, another by the government’s official veterinary body and a third by a legal committee — “to see who will hang instead of the giraffe,” Sedki said with a wry laugh.

Zoos are prone to bad publicity, especially when something goes wrong. The government-run Giza Zoo, in the heart of Egypt’s chaotic capital, may be particularly susceptible, given the country’s floundering economy, the tumult of nearby political demonstrations and an overall poor track record in animal care.

In May, three black bears died in a single night under mysterious circumstances. Zoo authorities called it a bear “riot.” In 2007 and in 2008, local media reported that zoo-keepers were slaughtering the park’s camels for meat — to eat themselves, and to sell to other hungry Egyptians.

And this month, the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that Roqa had committed suicide. The article went viral. (The same newspaper reported in August that the giraffes and other large animals at the zoo were so troubled by Egypt’s ongoing political unrest — especially the chants of protesters from the Muslim Brotherhood in a nearby public square — that they had been mulling suicide for a while.)

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“Is there anyone who actually believes that this giraffe committed suicide?” Sedki asked. As he spoke, a fresh, stinging cloud of tear gas wafted in through an open doorway, and the thudding blasts of tear-gas cannons could be heard from the latest clashes between student protesters and police at neighbouring Cairo University.

The campus is just northwest of the 122-year-old zoo, the biggest and oldest of Egypt’s seven zoological parks. On its north flank, just outside the zoo’s main gate, is Nahda Square, which served as a permanent protest encampment for supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi for more than a month in the summer. Police used bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters in August, killing scores of people.

When police fire tear gas at protesters, the irritating vapors inevitably make their way toward the animal enclosures, compelling zookeepers to wrap their faces in scarves on the worst of days. It has gotten to the animals, too, Sedki said.

“The sounds of the bullets and the tear gas affect the animals,” Sedki said. Some of the large animals, such as lions and hippos, have displayed “restlessness and tension,” he said.

Sedki said zoo authorities had moved some of the animals to different enclosures but found that they had few good options, given that all 80 acres of the zoo are bordered by roaring traffic and gritty urban sprawl.

For that same reason, Egyptians see the zoo as a rare — if dilapidated and underfunded — oasis of green. It costs about 70 cents (5 Egyptian pounds) to enter. Families bring picnics and set up camp for the entire day on the grassy medians. Couples stroll hand in hand, and bands of giggling teenagers roam.

“I know that in the West, going to the zoo is like going to a museum — you go to get knowledge,” Sedki said. “But here, they come to visit a garden, not a zoo.”

Animal rights activiststhemselves a rare breed in Egypt — have long been concerned about conditions at Giza, which echo the nation’s widespread poverty and bureaucratic failings after decades of authoritarianism and turmoil.

“This is not a zoo,” said Mona Khalil, a founder of the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals, which runs two shelters and provides free veterinary care to poor farmers on Cairo’s outskirts. “This is hell for animals.”

Many of the zoo’s employees earn less than $60 a month, activists say, and have little experience or training and even less incentive to protect the animals they care for. Instead, the employees follow visitors over the zoo’s muddy and potholed paths, offering scattered “facts” about the animals’ daily lives or an opportunity to get closer to them — in the hope that it will yield tips.

On a recent afternoon, some keepers touted the chance to hold a lion cub — or, if the visitor would prefer it, a monkey or a baby crocodile — for the equivalent of about $3.60.

Adult lions, cramped in iron-barred cages that resembled the circus pens of an earlier era, crunched on animal carcasses, as visitors used their cellphones to take pictures. Hippos and pelicans drifted through murky water. And a sickly black bear watched as a pair of stray cats hunched over its food dish.

Appalling conditions

Published on 20 Mar 2013 by Ismail Raef

“Anyone want a picture with a baby lion? Anyone want a picture with a baby lion?” an employee droned as he stood next to a row of cages, a camera around his neck.

Another zoo-keeper gestured toward a rhinoceros that was nosing around in the shade of some trees. “Her husband died six months ago,” the keeper said in a cheerful, casual tone. “She killed him with her horn.” Without further explanation, the keeper quickly walked away.

No one in the zoo’s administrative office was quite sure how many animals are kept on the premises. Staff members searched through files in the high-ceilinged administrative headquarters — a building full of binders, and apparently devoid of computers — but were able to find figures only from 2009: 78 species of mammals, 82 species of birds and 26 species of reptiles — for a total of 4,631 individual animals. Of those, about “forty-something” are lions, Sedki said.

Chained elephant – Giza Zoo – August 2012

Published on 24 Aug 2012 – Investigation conducted by Hatem Moushir, 3 August 2012 – in Giza Zoo

In 2010, the zoo began to separate most of its forty-something lions by sex — an effort to stem the sky-rocketing population. Meat is pricey, and space is limited.

To cope, many of the big cats are packed two per cage. They eat mostly donkey carcasses, zoo-keepers said, and they “fast” one day a week.

News Link:-http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/giza-zoo-in-cairo-is-beset-by-poverty-tear-gas-and-suspicious-animal-deaths/2013/12/18/1617aca0-6581-11e3-997b-9213b17dac97_story.html

Petitions:-

Published on 22 Sep 2,012 – Part of investigation conducted by Hatem Moushir, 21 September 2012 – in Giza Zoo

News comments:– Felinis Wrote – 12/18/2013 6:27 PM GMT
Kabul, Afganistan:
Marjan the lion was injured in 1994 when a visitor tried to impress his friends by climbing into his den. When the animal’s mate attacked and killed him, the man’s brother came to the zoo the next day and threw a grenade at Marjan in revenge. The explosion blinded him, broke his jaw and destroyed seven teeth.
The 25 year-old beast who was half-blind, lame and almost toothless died of old age in 2002 only weeks after an international animal rescue mission arrived to help him.
At another mid-east zoo four animals died after being fed tobacco by visitors.

Giza Zoo – August 2012 

Listen to an interview on Wildtime RadioAnimal rights activist Dina Zulfikar talked to WILD TIME RADIO about the zoos, CITES,
the lack of green space in their country, and more.

“So the bars are to keep the animals safe; the real animals live outside the bars.”

Further Reading:-http://esmaegypt.org/blog/2011/04/10/protest-at-cairo-zoo-on-april-16/

   /   May 11, 2013  “Calling all animal activists:-“

Reports on the news stated that the three female bears were fighting over a male.

Two days later, the Al-Watan newspaper broke the story;  the three bears died because of a sedative overdose, leading to two falling over and breaking several bones, while the remaining one drowned.

A photo of a starving lioness at Alexandria Zoo ignited anger last August, gaining international scrutiny from animal activists. The zoo manager assured them the case was under control. A day later, the lioness died.

Similar stories of the negligence of the seven governmental zoos in Egypt can be easily dug up.  One only has to walk through one of them to see the abuse; malnourished lions, hippos swimming in filthy ponds, wild dogs injured and left untreated, seals that perform tricks on command, brown bears spoon-fed and petted by visitors

You do not have to be a specialist to see the abuse first-hand.

Giza Zoo, because it is located in the capital, gets the lion’s share of media attention, followed by Alexandria Zoo. The conditions of the other governmental zoos in Beni Suef, Fayoum, Kafr El-Sheikh, Mansoura, and Tanta are even worse. Puny and injured animals suffering from malnourishment is a major concern.

News Link:http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/05/11/calling-all-animal-activists/

Giza Zoo

Gaza is another place you wouldn’t necessarily think of having a zoo. In recent years the Palestinian city has suffered from Israeli blockades and internal conflicts, and its zoo hasn’t fared much better. Today it houses two lions, a few monkeys, some birds, rabbits, cats, dogs and two fake zebras: donkeys painted with black and white stripes (pictured).
The zoo once had two real zebras in its collection, but they died of malnutrition during the Israel-Hamas war, when there was actual fighting within the zoo itself. Zoo officials later tried to replace the zebras, but finally opted for painted donkeys due to limited funds.

Donkeys painted to look like Zebra:-http://www.animals-zone.com/saddest-zoos-world

Founded in 1891, the Giza Zoo in Cairo, Egypt, was once among the best zoos in Africa. But today it’s a shell of its former glory, expelled from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2004 after failing an inspection. WAZA director Peter Dollinger wouldn’t tell Reuters in 2008 why exactly the zoo was expelled, saying only that “There were things that were not acceptable.”

Zookeepers reportedly augment their salaries by charging patrons to enter the cages with the animals, and two men broke into the zoo in 2007, killing two camels. Dozens of birds died from avian flu in 2006, and more than 500 were slaughtered to stem the outbreak. According to the Global Post, zoo workers also inhumanely killed two gorillas in 2004 thought to be infected with the Ebola virus.

News Link:– http://www.animals-zone.com/saddest-zoos-world

“Cairo “Giza” Zoo a sad disgrace.. needs outside help!”:-http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g294201-d552447-r97990506-The_Zoo-Cairo_Cairo_Governorate.html