The Zoo at Giza

The Zoo at Giza




The Zoo at Giza is one of the most beautiful in the world and the the most densely inhabited by the various animal and plant species. Its area is about 80 feddans. It is located near the west bank of the Nile. Its northern tip overlooks Cairo University. It is not far from down town Cairo and is linked to it by numerous buses. The Zoo is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture in Egypt.




Khedive Ismail (1863-1879), the ruler of Egypt, was the first to think of opening the Zoo on the occasion of the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869 but he could not do so for the lack of enough time. On March 1,1891, the Zoo at Giza was opened for the public. It is distinguished for its rare imported plants , walks that are paved with colored pebbles set in beautiful mosaic pictures, and its streams, lakes, bridges, and hilly habitats for the various animals that it houses. These hilly areas are planted with cactus trees and particularly the rare cactus fruit. Egypt's moderate climate helped preserve the lives of animals from different regions without the use of air-conditioning for cooling or warming.




The Zoo is considered a huge exhibition of African wild life. It is a habitat for many species of animals and birds which are now extinct in Egypt. They are to be restored to their original environments from which they were extinct. Among these are mountain goats and rams, Egyptian gazelles and heron.




The zoo is comprised of five hilly areas; the greatest called the Citadel Hill which was constructed in 1867. It is decorated with various statues of the extinct Fayoum rhinoceros, crocodiles and strange birds. Its plateau is covered with a small park that could be reached by means of a spiral path. It comprises plant-covered walks, a number of streams, a hall in its center as a resting place and various statues of birds and reptiles made of cement and pebbles. The streams flow through caves with white coral reefs hanging down, into waterfalls that lead to a lake with two islands connected with a wooden bridge. In front of the lions' house there are two artificial hills connected with a rare iron suspended bridge, the only one in Egypt.




In addition to the numerous animals in the garden, there is a museum which was built in 1906. It consists of three big halls exhibiting large groups of Egyptian and foreign embalmed birds, reptiles, fish and animals as well as skeletons. There are also two other halls exhibiting various kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds. An embalming factory is located behind the museum for such purposes.




The Zoo is also an institute where scientists study the behavior of animals and birds. There are five non-governmental organizations that carry out campaigns to encourage people to preserve wild life and promote environment awareness in Egypt.


See Feature Story about surviving the Giza Zoo.