Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Orangutans to Giza Zoo

Orangutan Gift To Giza Zoo

Regular readers of the Zoo News Digest Blog or are on the ZooNews Digest mailing list will not have missed my comments on the situation with the Lions in Giza Zoo in Egypt. If you looked you would become only too aware of the run down facilities for the lions.

I have never had the dubious pleasure of visiting this collection but am only too aware of others observations, private comments, video footage and more. It is certainly not a collection that would be very high on my list of places to send animals.

In fact, as things stand at present I would not send any animal at all. Why? Because this collection used to be a member of WAZA! Note the 'used to be'. Their membership was suspended in 2004!!!.... because it failed to meet the standards required for a zoo to continue being a member (see HERE for recent news). They have not regained membership.

All collections, and especially members or organisations like WAZA and EAZA have a duty of care to ensure that any animals moved on will recieve the same level or better care.

Yet, here we have the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort sending Orangutans to Giza. The Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort is a member of WAZA! How on earth are they justified in doing this? How can they send Orangutans to a collection which was kicked out of their sister organisation because of poor standards and care? I really cannot see how it is allowed. Sorry folks but something does not just smell stinks!!!

One wonders if there is an ulterior motive at work here. Is it simply a shortage of space in Al Ain (in which case there are far better collections than Giza to consider) or is it because Giza has something which Al Ain wants?

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  1. Peter, may I ask how your lion comments about Giza zoo are to be understood?

    You have me wondering whether your understanding of lion taxonomy is even less up to date than mine or I misunderstood you.

    About the topic:

  2. Good of you to raise the issue. I'll be looking for follow up.

  3. Hi Theodore - sorry about any lack of clarity here. I do not admit to being a taxonomist but have followed, and continue to follow the Barbary Lion project with interest.
    My point is that even with the best will in the world that if this subspecies is re-created by clever genetics that I cannot see it being returned to the wild. Far better to concentrate on captive spaces for the Lions which are in peril...and the African position is getting worse all the time. Not helped of course for the insane promotion of the white 'breed'.
    At the end of the day I very much doubt that they will find a Barbary in Giza.

  4. I share your doubts fully, though I hope against my expectations, it would not be the first time a bad zoo has really rare animals, and I am inclined to be a bit more positive about the possible future of the Barbary lion. If one does take the status of the North African lion as a subspecies serious there can hardly be another in greater peril: Extinct in the wild, very badly organized captive breeding and lions falsely presented as such. Its potential as North(west) African flagship taxon is really great on the other hand, but you are right, the other subspecies need places too, and no good generics keep places occupied, old story, that all said: When lion is called Barbary, biologist should be wary.

  5. I share your doubts, but still hope a bit against my own expectations, it would not be the first time "bad zoo people" have the rarities, but well, when lion is called Barbary, biologist be wary.

  6. The Giza Zoo joined the PAAZAB Dec. 2008 after a delegation from WAZA visited Egypt 2007. Many changes has happened and long/short term plans were set. Orangutans were exchanged with other species. I understand that Giza Zoo has plans to build an Orangutan enclosure, this is utmost important and vital.

  7. Thank you dina_zulfikar. Yes I was aware of Giza joining PAAZAB but equally aware that it did not require an inspection to join. WAZA is different. WAZA kicked Giza out because conditions had failed to improve.
    Exchanging animals is all very well but the conditions must equal or better those from where they come. As Giza has not yet built an Orangutan enclosure then this is clearly not the case. All they did was move out the Chimpanzees and move in the Orangutans. Where have they put the Chimpanzees? They must be now stuck somewhere which is far from satisfactory.
    Then there is the question of the complete silence from both Al Ain and Giza on this move. Is it because they are embarrassed or ashamed? They know, or should no that the move was wrong. Or is it because even now they are rapidly trying to put things right?
    There is also the question of the silence from the rest of the zoo world. Everybody knows the animals were moved from Al Ain to Giza. I have made a point of making sure that this is the case. It is an uncomfortable silence, a dirty silence.

  8. Dear Peter Dickinson: The Giza Zoo was kicked from WAZA due to several points (I would say about 15 points) - at that time the management of the zoo did not care to build, rectify or work in improvement with Zoos Associations. Since Dr. Nabil Sidki was appointed director of Central Zoos, much has changed. One of the defects was: the reptile house, I have witnessed major improvements, WAZA has sent delegation team to Egypt, they inspected the Giza Zoo and long/short term plans were set, PAAZAB are currently working closely with Giza Zoo Management to achieve goals/plans for a better zoo.
    Now - back to Orangutans and where the chimps have gone:
    1. As an activist and animal lover, I see that swaping those Orangutans with Ein Zoo should not have taken place before a new enclosure is ready.
    2. There are 6 governmental zoos in Egypt, some of the chimps were moved to those facilities.
    3. The Giza Zoo Management has got a complete, ready, approved, analysed project for a new chimps enclosure since begining of 2008.... but financial means plus the resession is an obstacle.
    4. I have inquired about Oranguatans enclosure, I learnt the Giza Zoo has a complete project and would start to implement after the fiscal year (July).
    The above is facts and does not reflect my opinion except in point 1. I am not defending the zoo or else, I happen to try and follow up. I do care and I wish we had new chimps enclosure and new orangutans enclosures as long as these animals are already in the zoo.

    Now referring to the lions problem and barbary lions: Yes, there are barbary lions in Giza Zoo. Also please see this recent interview updated on youtube:

  9. It is so depressing that : neither the orangutans which arrived at Giza Zoo are placed in complying conditions, nor the chimps which were sent to governmental zoos to evacuate space at the chimps enclosure for those orangutan.
    We had a problem: building a new enclosure for the chimps the 8 chimps, now we have 3 problems:
    setting a complying enclosure for the 3 Orangutan
    setting a complying facility for the 8 chimps and gathering them again from various governmental zoos
    some of those chimps are kept single in governmental zoos, some are suffering and don't have an outside enclosure
    no need to mention: the problem of Mouza the chimp which arrived to Giza Zoo as a rescue center.. so we add to the problem of the 8 chimps 1 more chimp.
    Best of luck for Giza Zoo and Paazab in sorting those problems which occured this year as of May 2010.

  10. Very strange that PAAZAB stopped answering any inquiries or concerns regarding Giza Zoo. Giza Zoo management says inquire from PAAZAB, PAAZAB does not answer... (????)
    Need clarification from PAAZAB, it has been almost a year, the chimps which had been moved to vacant space for the orangutans are held in non complying inappropriate facilities, also the Orangutans are held in non complying facility which does not meet the species specific needs... I hope PAAZAB provides answer, explanation, plan... anything, Egyptian People, Egyptian Animal People are keen to provide help and find solution to this situaiton, we can also call for help from international specialized organizations to find solution to these problems, but, PAAZAB does not answer, why? almost a year passed now. Please if anyone has connection with PAAZAB could you please ask them how long can this situation remain unsolved?