Following concerns expressed by various parties pertaining to PAAZAB’s engagement with Giza Zoo, Cairo, Egypt, the Chairman of PAAZAB, Dr Clifford Nxomani makes the following statement:
“There have been numerous demands on PAAZAB to clarify its position with regard to its engagement with Giza zoo, both form the point of view of the challenges that Giza zoo faces with regard to animal welfare and husbandry matters as well as thus their continued membership of PAAZAB. The Association would like to have it known that its engagement with Giza zoo is a systematic one made up of the following components:
· Training and capacity development.
Through the deployment of specialist expertise relating to animal welfare, husbandry and animal medicine/health, PAAZAB undertook two training and support missions to Giza Zoo over two years. During these missions experts from within the PAAZAB membership (mainly from Johannesburg Zoo, uShaka Marine World, National Zoological Gardens of South Africa and the Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty) were deployed to familiarize themselves with the situation at the zoo and to undertake training of the zoo’s staff to address identified shortcomings and gaps. This included emergency treatment of animals that so required as well as advice on and orientation of staff on what to do with other animals requiring longer term attention; review of records management processes and systems and the introduction of significant improvements therein in line with modern zoo practice; targeted training of both animals and staff to facilitate better management of species for which there were identified problems; undertaking of small projects to construct minor animal management facilities such as feeding slabs and relevant training of staff on the appropriate use thereof. This aspect has now been completed and PAAZAB is in continuous contact with GIZA Zoo to follow up implementation. A representative of the zoo has recently given a report back on progress around this aspect at the PAAZAB Annual conference in mid-May 2011. The missions were supported financial by North Carolina Zoo through the facilitation of its Director Dr David Jones.
· High level engagement with Egyptian authorities.
Meetings have been held with the highest authorities responsible for Giza Zoo and wildlife management in Egypt, from the Minister responsible to the Secretary for Zoos and Wildlife under whose authority the zoo falls. Insofar as PAAZAB understands, there is commitment by the relevant authorities to address the challenges faced by the zoo. This includes the devolution of some decision-making to the zoo’s management to enable them to address priority matters, particularly those related to animal health and welfare.
· Assistance with the development of a new MasterPlan for Giza zoo.
The relevant authorities have committed to assisting Giza Zoo to undertake the development of a new MasterPlan for the zoo, and experts in this regard are already working with both the zoo and the authorities to get this underway. PAAZAB is playing a prominent role in making its inputs as appropriate in this process, utilizing the expertise of its constituency and international partners and friends. Given the age of the facility and the existence of a maze of structures with protected heritage status on its property, this is likely to be a technically demanding if not lengthy process.
· Implementation of the PAAZAB operational Standard.
PAAZAB requires of its institutional members, of which Giza Zoo is one, to apply for and be assessed according to this standard. All institutional members, including Giza Zoo, have until the end of April 2012 to apply for the assessment. Failure to apply will result in automatic adjustment of the membership status of the institution concerned. In this regard, and given the myriad urgent challenges faced by Giza Zoo, PAAZAB is committed to prioritizing the Operational Standard audit and assessment of the zoo, within a 3-6 month period post their application. The membership status of Giza zoo will thus be decided at that point, based on the outcome of the Operational Standard assessment.
PAAZAB is committed to seeing this engagement through in a logical, considerate and systematic way. The Association is in continuous contact with Giza zoo and will respond as appropriate to current and emergency matters that arise during the course of this engagement. PAAZAB feels that the above process needs to be given time to play itself out and its impact to be allowed to manifest, and thus has no further comment to make on Giza Zoo pertaining to the above or related issues.
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