On April 6th the director and founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), Ruben Kachatryan, was officially appointed by the Yerevan Municipality as the new director of the Yerevan State Zoo. In his first statement as director, Mr. Khachatryan emphasized that “necessary steps will be taken to renovate the Yerevan Zoo and transform it into a facility dedicated to animal welfare, education and nature protection.”
October 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the Yerevan Zoo and will be celebrated in the frame of SunChild 3rd International Environmental Festival. Sadly the institution in its current state completely fails to meet internationally recognized zoo standards. Animal care as well as the overall construction of the animal enclosures are grossly inadequate. Years of mismanagement and neglect have resulted in an urgent situation that requires vigorous modifications.
The renovation of the Yerevan Zoo is the first step in FPWC’s far-sighted goal of establishing a “National Center for Environmental Education and Biodiversity Conservation”. FPWC proposed the concept for the Center in 2009 with the aim of developing a hub for educational endeavors and innovative policies for nature conservation in Armenia. The Center will consist of three entities: A South-Caucasian Wildlife Sanctuary (which will be an offshoot of the Yerevan Zoo), a College of Environmental Studies and a Scientific Research Institute.
In the process of establishing the Center, the current zoo may potentially be relocated to a more appropriate location. A feasibility study most probably supported by the German Development Bank KfW will be conducted to examine whether it would be a better use of financial resources to renovate the current zoo facility or close Yerevan Zoo and implement a more holistic concept at a different location.
FPWC will bring in partners and supporters to join the effort to change the unbearable conditions at the zoo. ARTIS Zoo Amsterdam, with its director Haig Balian, will act as the main partner in the project. A veterinarian and experienced zookeeper from ARTIS will travel to Yerevan to provide support for improving the health and welfare of the animals. Furthermore, a group of experts in zoo planning, headed by Bernard Harrison former Director of Singapore Zoo and world renowned zoo planner, will come to Armenia soon to provide support for the renovations.
But beyond all future planning for the zoo, making the necessary urgent modifications to better the welfare of the animals is Mr. Khachatryan’s highest priority. The new zoo director calls on all Armenian citizens, governmental institutions and international organizations to join the effort to put an end to the suffering of the animals at the Yerevan Zoo.
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