Sunday, April 21, 2013

Help the Kuwait Zoo

Mark posted this a while back and maybe I can help bring attention to this problem (and ask people for their help).  I haven't been to the Kuwait Zoo since I first went there in 1993.  At that time, seeing the wolves and the way people treated them literally broke my heart and I vowed never to return again - just can't do it.

I hope they will find help for the poor animals.

Mark's full post is below (from

Why the Kuwait Zoo is a disaster

Everyone who’s been to the Kuwait Zoo knows how sad and depressing the place is. I’ve written about it a number of times and it’s just something that has bewildered me for a very long time. Why is the zoo the way it is? I always figured the people who worked at the zoo didn’t care about the animals but after meeting a few of the staff members recently I now know that’s not true. Turns out there are two main reasons why the zoo is a disaster, the first is the zoo visitors and the second is they just don’t have enough money to make it better.

The Visitors
Majority of the people who visit the zoo do not respect the animals nor do they respect any of the rules. On one trip to the zoo during the daytime when it was fairly empty I witnessed three different incidents in a space of 15 minutes that summarizes the problem with the people at the zoo. The first incident took place at the elephant enclosure. We noticed a woman with her young kid had climbed over the fence, through the cactuses all the way to the wall of the elephant enclosure and were taking pictures next to the trunk of the elephant that was sticking out. One of the zoo employees who was with me yelled at the women to get away from the elephant because it was dangerous and the woman just coldly took her time making her way back out over the fence as if she had done nothing wrong. A few meters away on the other corner of the enclosure there was a kid next to his mother with a bag of oranges throwing them at the second elephant. Again the zoo employee had to stop the kid from throwing oranges at the elephant while the mother was pretending she wasn’t noticing any of this.

The third incident occurred just a short distance away at the baboon enclosure. As we arrived we noticed a kid was on top of the fence sticking french fries into the baboon cage trying to feed them. His mother and his sister were standing next to him watching and then the baboon stuck his hand out of the cage and the little boy tried to kick it hard but ended up missing and hitting the cage. The zoo employee I was with yelled at the boy to get down and then pulled the kid down but the kid kept climbing back up wanting to feed the baboons. The employee was telling the kid how dangerous it was since the baboons can bite and scratch people when his mother started shouting at her. She told the employee that no one cares about her kids more than her and if this was dangerous she wouldn’t be letting her kids feed the baboons. I was just standing there going WTF?

Visitors are one of the biggest issues of the zoo. I’ve already posted about how some kids try to kill the animals with slingshots and how the trash people throw into the cages end up killing the animals as well. A lot of kids are uneducated and abusive throwing whatever they can at the animals or in the case above trying to kick them. This is why the zoo tries to protect the animals using chicken wire (a fence with very small openings) around the cages, cactus plants, higher fences and security guards. But even those defenses fail all the time, people still manage to shove food into the cages, they pull down the chicken wire fence and put it on top of the cactuses so they can walk on them towards the cages. Even security guards get ignored and the guards are too afraid to confront the visitors anyway.

No Budget
Now this second issue is the bigger of the two. The zoo has limited financial resources. Although Kuwait is a rich country, the zoo and animals aren’t really a priority. Right now there are two major enclosures for example that need to be changed or fixed but the zoo staff haven’t been able to secure the budget for them.

The first problem is the elephant enclosure. Right now there are two elephants and the enclosure is pretty tiny. The larger of the two elephants has started destroying the walls of the enclosure because of frustration. The zoo submitted a proposal to double the size of the enclosure since there is an empty plot right next to the elephant enclosure but the proposal was rejected. Instead a construction company was brought in to install large metal beams around the elephant enclosure as a solution (pictured above).

The second problem that is in dire need of attention is the chimpanzee cage (pictured above). There are four chimps in one of the most depressing cages I’ve ever seen. They have no entertainment whatsoever inside, it’s just a rectangular dark cage with concrete floors and thats it. But, there’s a great spot in the zoo which the staff want to convert to a chimp enclosure. It’s a large space (see below) that can be planted with trees and greenery and chimps can roam free in it. The plan was proposed but rejected due to budgetary reasons. So now the space is gonna be turned into a reptile enclosure filled with a few crocs and turtles which is going to be a complete waste of space.

So although the staff do want to improve the zoo they just don’t have any money do so. It’s very depressing. Even when it comes to fixing enclosures or purchasing new medical equipment it’s all handled in the same low priority “put a bandaid on it” way.

The Solution
The visitors problem is very difficult to fix. One way would be to increase the prices of the tickets (currently it’s 500fils) in hopes that would stop or lessen the amount of visitors that come to the zoo. Educating the parents and the children is too large a task for the zoo to handle and signs and leaflets really have no effect. The most realistic solution to the people problem is to continue and try to protect the animals (I suggested replacing cactus plants with barbed wire) and hiring Kuwaiti security to replace the current expats.
The solution with the budget should be simpler… just increase the budget, but that’s not happening. A more realistic option we discussed is sponsorship by private companies. Companies could sponsor an animal enclosure and the money would be used to build it or improve it. It’s something that’s done in other zoos around the world and in this situation it would be a great way to solve a lot of the problems.

By the way you’re a company and are interested in doing this, email me for more details [Here]
It’s really sad that the zoo doesn’t have any money to improve the situation for the animals. It’s not only the elephants and the chimps that are in trouble but those two are the priorities right now. The baboon cage for example has around 70 baboons inside and is over crowded. The tiger needs more space, the hippos need a new water filter for their pool and one of the giraffes is limping but they don’t have a portable xray machine to check and see why. They even have one animal enclosure nicknamed Guantanamo because it’s that bad.
The problems with the zoo are major and hopefully I was able to bring it some exposure.

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