Zookeepers at the Giza Zoo in Egypt accidentally killed three black bears and officials then tried to cover up their negligence. A local newspaper, Al Watan, uncovered their deception and now activists are calling to close all seven government zoos due to prolonged abuse of wild animals throughout the system.
After three black bears died overnight on May 5, 2013 at the Giza zoo in Egypt, officials released an official report claiming that they had mauled each other to death.
Two females were said to have fought each other over a male bear – a fight that lasted from 3pm to midnight, they said.
An in-house pathology report detailed injuries sustained by the bears, including broken necks and lower jaws, chest bones and spinal cords.
Suspicious of the various inconsistencies revealed in the report, local press and animal activists decided to investigate further, and it didn’t take long to realize that zoo officials had masterminded a terrible cover up that would be comical if their negligence was not so complete.
An anonymous witness revealed that the zookeepers tranquilized the three bears in advance of the Sham el Nessem Easter holiday that attracts up to 70,000 people.
But instead of calming down the bears to cope with the human mob, the zookeepers administered too much of the sedative and two of them subsequently tried to climb out of their enclosures and fell, and the third bear drowned.
And then, Instead of owning up to their mistakes, Giza Zoo attempted to cover up their mistakes with a bogus statement published on their Facebook page.
While it is easy to blame zookeepers for tragedies like these, which have occurred consistently for as long as Green Prophet has existed, activists warn that the problem is more complicated than that.
“The zoo keepers are given very low monthly salaries, around EGP 200,” according to Occupy For Animals.
“To make ends meet, they depend on tips from visitors who, in turn, require tricks from the animals. The keepers have to care about the animals because they are their livelihoods. Unlike zoo keepers aboard, they are not given any awareness or animal behaviour courses.”
The best that zookeepers can do with the limited money they receive to do their jobs is keep the animals alive, one keeper told OFA.
Then when an animals dies from malnutrition, a preventable illness or – in this case – a drug overdose, the zookeepers are held responsible instead of the administration.
General Organisation of Veterinary Services (GOVS) head Osama Selim, who oversees public zoos, veterinarian quarantine, veterinarian preventive medicine, and slaughterhouses also heads veterinary services, while Giza Zoo director Fatma Tamam is the person in charge of all complaints.
“The duality of positions means that complaints fall into a vicious cycle; if an animal dies at Giza Zoo, a complaint is then filed to the zoo director, who is Tamam,” according to OFA.
“All complaints against the zoo are handed to the head of the public zoos- Tamam- too. Complaints filed with the Environment Police are also handed to Tamam for investigation!”
The group is calling for the closure of all seven zoos. If you want to help, visit Occupy for Animals.