October 17, 2010
GIZA ZOO: SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
By Abeer Mohamed
Loving animals is in my genes; I have always preferred them to people. Currently I have two crazy dogs, and the sweetest two cats in the world and hopefully a cute little chimp can join us soon. Going to the zoo is a personal favorite activity of mine, one I never miss an opportunity to do. I can safely assume I have gone more times than most people I know.
Giza Zoo is one tricky place though, a day there wont be a day wasted. All one needs is this insiders guide to surviving at Giza Zoo.
The first person to think of opening a zoo in Egypt was Khedive Ismail; his original plan was opening it for the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869. There was not enough time to do it, and the Zoo officially opened its doors on March 1st, 1891. It was first intended as a botanical garden housing a number of rare species of plants and cacti.
About The Zoo
Giza Zoo overlooks Cairo University; it has five gates on all sides, and was built on 80 acres of land. Inside the Zoo there is over 130 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Not to mention that most of the greenery in the Zoo is rare plants, and the gorgeous grottoes. Other than playing host to a number of animals, the Zoo also has an animal museum, an animal experimental center and an animal behavioral study institute. Not to mention that the Zoo works on saving endangered animals through breeding then relocating the animals to their original habitat..
Some of the animals you can find there are baboons, chimpanzees, lions, leopards, jackals, kangaroos, sea lions, and bears. Also many breeds of birds can be found like vultures, pelicans, cockatoos, emus, flamingos, and sacred ibises. You can also find reptiles such as crocodiles, alligators, and cobras.
In 2010, the Zoo had new arrivals, three orangutans (Teetee, Fatouta, Bangu), Bonnet Macaques, Rhesus Macaque, Pigtail Macaque, and Patas monkey. Also, baby animals were born this year including a beautiful American black bear named Lola.
Theres also the touching story of Muzas survival. She is a beautiful chimp, who arrived to the Zoo in April 2010 exhausted and with several tumors. A team of the Zoo vets took good care of her, and successfully removed the two tumors from her neck and chest.
How to survive
To have a nice day at the Zoo with the animals, you have to come prepared. My first piece of advice is to keep an open mind and stay positive; just like anywhere else in Cairo youre bound to get some "compliments" thrown your way. At least thats how I choose to look at them, so if someone yells at you saying "beautiful", "sexy" or anything similar try to pay no attention and just take it as a compliment. Second piece of advice would be power in number; almost everything is more fun with other people to enjoy it with you, so make sure when you visit the Giza Zoo theres someone else to walk its long streets with you. In this case, its not just more fun its helpful.
A happy bladder makes for a happy day, the honest truth is the facilities there are not that clean, but dont let that discourage you from enjoying a day at the Zoo. It takes approximately two to three hours to get around the Zoo, just make sure you dont need to use the facilities while you are there.
The best time to visit would be in the early morning between the months of October and January (Never go on a national holiday the number of people there can get overwhelming). Its much less crowded and you can actually enjoy the day without melting from the heat. There are plenty of benches and seating areas, many vendors so you can easily get something to drink or a snack.
One trick Ive learned is that if you chat with some of the zookeepers, and give them a small tip theyll let you go in with some of well-behaved animals. You can hold a chimp, pet a baby lion or hold a harmless snake (Ive held a snake like the one Britney Spears danced with at the VMAs in 2001). A map can be purchased at the ticket booth, and there are signs with pictures all over the zoo so getting lost is not an option. The only tricky thing would be getting out from the same gate you got in. Prices are written in Arabic and English next to each ticketing booth.
So next time you visit Cairo include Giza Zoo in you itinerary, now that you know how to survive it and have a great time..
The Suspended bridge outside the lions house was designed by G. Eiffel.
The African elephant is the largest mammal on earth.
One of the endangered animals the Zoo is helping is the Bactrian camel.
Although all street signs of the Zoo have a giraffe picture, the Zoo doesnt have a Giraffe.
Opening hours: Summer (April/September) 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Winter (October/March) 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Fees: 20 L.E Ticket + 1 L.E Map