Monday, August 12, 2002

CHIMPANZEE ALSO SUFFERS HEAT AT POOR CAIRO ZOO

Swiss time 16:02, Monday 12.08.2002
Polar bear feels the heat in Cairo
By Heba Kandil

CAIRO (Reuters) - A heatwave has sent Egypt's temperatures soaring and 15-year-old Hassouna has been struggling more than most to keep cool.

Huge ice blocks are dumped in his swimming pool throughout the day and he takes regular showers, but who could blame him for still finding the scorching 45-degree Celsius [113-degree Fahrenheit] heat unbearable?

Hassouna, with his thick, grimy white fur to protect him in the Arctic snow fields, is a polar bear and rather out of his element in his open-air iron cage.

Giza Zoo says it is making every effort to improve the surroundings of its 13,500-plus inmates, but animal welfare groups say conditions at the 111-year-old site near central Cairo remain poor....

The authorities have been working to clean up the site, which years of negligence and overcrowding left in a pitiful state, with unwashed and under-fed animals, garbage-strewn paths, and a run-down museum and laboratory....

"In this zoo, a number of the animals are still kept in totally unacceptable conditions, the polar bear being a case in point, but unfortunately not the only one," the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) said in a statement sent to Reuters from its Kenya office.

But the WSPA, which has been helping Giza Zoo's team provide better conditions, said the zoo was cleaning up its act....

Cool showers were not enough to tempt Gigi the chimpanzee, a gift to the zoo from the late president Anwar Sadat, into the sun or to encourage a family of African baboons, once worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, to perform....