It wasn’t long since I watched We Bought a Zoo by Scarlett Johannsson and Matt Damon and thought to myself, “wow! I should probably visit the zoo”. Of course, its reputation preceded it, but I told myself that it is probably not that bad.
I took my headphones to listen to music so I can endure the horrible traffic of 6th of October Bridge and charged my camera to take pictures of what I thought will be peaceful and beautiful animals. It was a Wednesday morning and purposely I went at that time to avoid any “harassment” from other visitors.
“I wondered what took so long and found a family that was too stubborn to go inside, because they thought that their children didn’t need a ticket”
Upon my arrival, I went to purchase a ticket. The lady herself who sold me the ticket looked as if she was trapped in a cage. The room she was in was slightly underground and looked suffocating and claustrophobic. And I don’t want to talk about the street sellers outside scattered everywhere, blocking the gates. Despite the fact that it was 10am, midweek, the zoo was slightly crowded. I went to the door and found a small non-moving line. I wondered what took so long and found a family that was too stubborn to go inside, because they thought that their children didn’t need a ticket because of their age (even though the ticket is 20LE for non-Egyptians and 5LE for Egyptians).
I finally went inside and I was indecisive on which direction I should take first. I decided to go to the right because that was where the ostriches are –yes, they do fascinate me a lot. First animal I bumped into was a ram. It looked so tired. Not from starvation, but just tired. It looked all dirty, which I understand because of the area it is surrounded in. As I continued on, I came across an area dedicated for land tortoise. I try and search for them, found none! They were all hiding inside. However; I found that the poor turtles were hiding in the shade probably because of the weather. They were in a corner and were all inside their shells. I honestly thought the turtles were dead because the shells were so dirty and dusty that you can’t even see their beautiful natural patterns. Still, they wouldn’t leave a dead animal in its cage right?
Wrong. As I came across where the chickens, ducks, and geese are, I found an empty cage. And as I walk away, I heard the people next to me pointing out that there is a dead duck in the “fountain” they have for them to swim in. That was also very confusing. They have some ducks that are free to swim or walk around, but they put some inside of those small cages with a weird looking fountain for them to “enjoy”.
Speaking of water, the water in question looked like it was a mixture of sewage and garbage. It was so unclean and just by looking at it you can read the word “TOXIC” everywhere. Such a shame for beautiful creatures like these ducks to live in such a wasteful land!
Before I left, I went to see the lions. How can you visit the zoo without seeing the lions? I noticed the big sign that says “The House of Lions”, but from outside, the place looked really crammed. From the outside, it looked bigger, but of course, it wasn’t. The lions were caged in the tiniest area possible. I was aware that they let them out from the back door into a larger area, but most of the time they were caged like that. There was one lion which kept moving in circles, while the other lions and lioness either gave up or just slept to escape reality. There was another house; I suppose for tigers and cheetahs, but I didn’t bother and just excused myself out.
I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I thought that the experience as an adult would be different than from I was a child. It most certainly was. I saw it from the view of a mature adult. If this was anywhere outside of Egypt, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) would have rallied to shut it down immediately. However, we are in Egypt. Don’t consider this as a bad review of the place; consider this a warning, a heads-up that we need urgent change to the inhumane treatment of animals at the zoo. And the only way to do it, is by ourselves.