Hundreds pass by the Giza zoo every day. In fact, many cannot bare the idea of spending official holidays anywhere other than the vacuous park. However, it is no secret that the iconic venue has been suffering from severe deterioration in recent decades.
International media have reported on the current status of the zoo on many different occasions. From starvation to depression, the animals reportedly suffer under unbearable conditions.
Dina Zulfikar and Desiree Franziska Huth decided to prove their love for animals and give the zoo’s management a helping hand.
In a short period of time, the two activists managed to gather a group of active volunteers and organise regular entertainment trips to the zoo. The initiative works in two directions: one that aims to raise awareness about the place and another that seeks better conditions for the animals.
“The main goal is to improve the lives of the animals, especially the chimps. Chimps are very smart, and they can suffer from depression if they do not get the chance to use their brain,” said Lobna Fayez, a volunteer.
During their regular visits, the team brings magazines for the chimps so that they can look at the pictures inside. They also take paper and pens to give animals the opportunity to draw.
“It is an amazing experience. After going for five times only, the chimps started recognising me. They go crazy out of happiness when they see me, and one of them keeps throwing air kisses at me. It is so lovely,” said Franziska Huth.
Additionally, the team prepares treat boxes and encourages the chimps to figure out ways to earn them in order to mentally challenge the chimps and keep them active.
“This enrichment programme has been going on for a few months. We have been posting the pictures on our personal accounts. Meanwhile, the zoo’s official account has also shared them,” said Fayez.
During the early stages, Zulfikar faced a few problems with the zoo’s management. However, the new management has been showing greater support since joining the zoo. The team currently works hand in hand with the management. While the zoo provides food, the volunteers aim to create healthy interaction and entertainment programmes to enrich the animals’ lives.
According to Fayez, the team is currently searching for volunteers in order to expand their activities. “The main aim is for people to come on regular times; we do not want to do this only for a few months, we seek a permanent arrangement,” said Fayez.
The team currently hopes to recruit a number that can cater to all species. They also aim to give the zoo a helping hand regarding the animals’ nutrition and food supplies. Even though they do not currently have any clear plans or specific tasks, the volunteers wish to further develop their initial idea, which aims to create better living circumstances for the animals.