Monday, August 04, 2008

#325 A day at an Egyptian zoo

So our friend Aree compares zoos. Having worked in one, she's on the lookout for the good and bad in others. And she's chosen that topic for a Semester At Sea research paper comparing three zoos along our route. So when she asked who wanted to visit the Alexandria zoo, I raised my hand thinking it would be fun to tag along and learn something from a pro.

The Alexandria zoo is an entertainment destination for local families. 
They walk to the zoo and picnic, kick soccer balls along the sidwalks, enjoy the outdoors, and feed the animals. Yup, for less than 1 US dollar a keeper will assist you with feeding raw meat to a lion or dropping sugar cane stalks into the trunk of an elephant.
The exhibits ranged from basic cages to elaborate outdoor runs. But everywhere you look, the place shows its age. It's not up to the standards we'd expect in the states, and the feeding practices we saw were not designed with the best interests of the animals in mind.
Aree came away with lots to write about. Thanks to Aree, I learned to distinguish Indian and African elephants along the way. But I came away wondering if the locals and the animals would be better served by a zoo focused on education rather than entertainment. The easy answer is yes, but the reality of allocating limited resources in Alexandria might mean an alternative of no easily accessible zoo at all.

Yours in scratching the surface of the complex zoo question,

P.S. See Mary's thoughts on Alexandria's great library on the UVA public affairs blog.
P.P.S. Can you have a P.S. on a blog?

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