Photo taken on the 18th February 2016.
Photo taken on the 18th February 2016.
I know that you've visited this zoo on numerous occasions when back in Egypt...but how do you bring yourself to walk through the gates again and again? I have certainly visited some privately-run roadside menageries throughout the USA on some of my lengthy road trips, but there are plenty of zoos that I've seen once and have no desire to ever re-visit. Are you conflicted when you go back to Giza Zoo or does the zoo genuinely improve each year?
The zoo doesn't always seem to be improving overall, but there usually are a few changes for the better. This year, for instance, it was nice to see that one side of the old lion house was used for the new cheetah enclosure, and I'm not sure if the house is still being used for lions (it would be great if it isn't!) - I'm struggling to think of another positive change from my brief visit. You're right though; it's demoralising and frustrating to visit and find that things haven't changed much.
A few times so far this year I've thought of what you've said on your roadside zoo visits: "I visit this zoo so you don't have to", but I don't really like the idea of boycotting a zoo based just on what I've heard. I prefer to go, see how things look and make my own mind up where possible. If conditions are unacceptable then I have absolutely no issue in making my thoughts clear to senior members of staff and suggesting simple improvements. As someone who isn't a zoo professional this makes me pretty unpopular at times, but I have no problem inviting reasonable discussion or even shouting at managers if that's what's needed to make the situation clearer. I'm also happy to write lengthy reviews online on various sites (including here) to increase awareness of such a poor zoo.
Giza Zoo has a few consistently positive aspects, however, that are quite easy to look past:
- The collection is very impressive, showcasing the most comprehensive display of Egyptian fauna and a wealth of animals from across Africa (and a few from beyond.)
- From the animals' point of view, I can't see many issues for most of the medium-sized hoofstock which mostly seem to get decent paddocks and clean maintenance areas.
- Most of the bird housing would be thought at least acceptable in Western collections
- They can actually put effort in when they feel it is necessary, e.g. with the giraffe enclosure when giraffes returned to the zoo a few years ago
- Although some of it is done in a backwards manner, the zoo does encourage controlled interactions with some animals (like small snakes) which go down very well with members of the public.
Thank you for the lengthy and informative response. You and I have been in contact over the years due to zoo map exchanges and I realize that we think alike in regards to the fact that we'll visit any zoo at least once. There are a number of individuals that tell me how they refuse to tour a particular facility because of bad press or the treatment of a particular species but it is always best to show up in person to see things for yourself.
I also agree with your comments that refer to taking photos and posting reviews on websites such as ZooChat. I've had many of my zoo photos end up in excellent places (Denver Zoo cellphone app, Portico Group exhibit design company, Gorillas Land website, etc) and I've also seen my comments bashing Edmonton's Valley Zoo end up in a report that was widely circulated in the Canadian media. I'm like you and will visit any zoo on the planet as in many ways I know that I can perhaps change things in a tiny way for either good or bad.
However, there are lots of zoos that I will never return to unless there is a substantial transformation at that particular facility. The worst place that I've ever been to is perhaps Clay Center Zoo in Kansas, an absolutely dreadful zoo that should be bulldozed immediately. I've not even been to my neighbourhood Greater Vancouver Zoo in 5 full years even though I live 20 minutes away and it is miles ahead of some of the other places I've been to in the heartland of the USA. That zoo now has a new owner and a Master Plan in progress (not yet released to the public) and so if positive things occur then I'll be back. I'd visit Giza Zoo in a heart-beat but I'm not sure that I'd return unless there was dramatic improvement. Having said that, raising public awareness of poor zoos is an important past-time of a zoo enthusiast.
I think we're mostly in agreement, but I might have a lower threshold for not returning than you. In all my visits I can only think of a couple of places which I really don't ever want to go back to, and if I was in the area I might still consider visiting briefly to see if anything changed.
Separate names with a comma.