Cairo Zoo conditions raise hackles of animal rights activists
Officials promise to fix the problems
July 5, 1997
Web posted at: 10:56 p.m. EDT (0256 GMT)
From Correspondent Gayle Young
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- After years of international complaints
about the Cairo Zoo, Egypt is promising to clean up its
A recent tour by representatives of two major animal rights
groups, though, showed how far the zoo has to go.
Elephants are chained in place almost every day of their
lives. Large animals are kept in small concrete cages without
even a bowl of water to quench their thirst.
Uneducated keepers routinely provoke the animals, in an
effort to earn tips from zoo patrons. Polar bears suffer in
Egypt's 100-degree heat. One of them, disfigured by disease,
is forced to eat carrots instead of fish.
"They're kept enclosed in tiny Victorian cages. There are no
amenities for the animals to entertain themselves," says
naturalist Richard Hoath. "The zoo complains about lack of
funding and lack of resources, but how much does a dead tree
The 100-year-old zoo is one of the most popular and crowded
on the African continent, and it makes money. Officials say
that on some holidays it has as many as 2 million visitors.
Egyptian officials say they are ready to use some of the
zoo's revenue to improve living conditions for the animals.
But critics say much of the money has been used to create
landscaped walkways for people, rather than new habitats.
The zoo does have an enclosure for six lucky lions, who can
run on grass and drink from a man-made pond. But 42 other
lions remain confined in their cement cellblocks.
A pair of 2-week-old cubs were separated from their mother.
Animal rights groups asked that they be reunited, and they
were. And one of the animal rights activists garnered a
promise that the disfigured polar bear would be transferred
to another zoo.
Zoo officials say they want to cooperate, and they've agreed
to accept advice from international consultants to make the
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