Things have gone terribly wrong in an Egyptian zoo where a group of baboons turned on one of their cage-mates, tearing at its legs and biting off its feet, according to eye-witness reports. Images of the African baboon, whose feet were cannibalized by his cage mates, have gone viral on Egyptian social media.
“Due to extreme hunger, some animals starved to death, and others have eaten each others,” social media user Miss Assnaa posted on Save an Innocent Animal Soul Facebook page Tuesday.
Zoo employees stand accused of feeding starved animals only when visitors offered money. The animals are believed to be lacking all medical care, and they are housed in filthy conditions. The zoo is located in the Sharqia governorate in the Nile Delta.
Zakazik Zoo director Ayman Lotfi denied such social media reports, adding that the 17-year-old baboon was injured after he went on the rampage because his pregnant wife abandoned him for his newly born baboon. Lotfi continued in remarks to Youm7 that the zoo decided to isolate the baboon, the father, to protect the baby, adding that the baboon suffered inflammation of the lymph glands.
Egyptian zoos have long been plagued by problems, with the most egregious offenses occurring in the aftermath of the January 2011 revolution. Earlier in 2004, Giza Zoo lost its certification from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), largely due to financial ability to maintain the zoo but also because of a spate of suspicious animal deaths.
Animal rights activists have long been concerned about conditions at Egyptian zoos, which echo the nation’s widespread poverty and bureaucratic failings. Zoo employees are underpaid, earning less than $60 a month, have little experience or training, and no incentives to protect the animals they care for. Instead, the employees often trail visitors, offering random commentary about the animals, and offering opportunities to hold them, feed them, or photograph them in attempt to incite tips.
Zoos are prone to bad publicity, especially when animals are injured. Cairo’s government-run Giza Zoo may be particularly susceptible, given Egypt’s floundering economy and an overall poor track record in animal care.
In 2013, a 3-year-old giraffe died after getting fatally tangled in wires dangling inside her enclosure. A media furor ensued when zoo officials asserted that the animal had committed suicide. That same year, three black bears died in a single night in what Zoo authorities called “a bear riot.” In 2007 and in 2008, local media reported that zookeepers were slaughtering the park’s camels for meat for themselves, and to sell to others.
Mona Khalil, a founder of the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals, which runs two shelters and provides free veterinary care to poor farmers on Cairo’s outskirts, said at the time, “This is not a zoo, this is hell for animals.”
Image from Cairo Post