The recent unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has brought the plight of zoos caught within these warzones into the media spot light once again. The Iraq invasion in 2003 decimated the Baghdad zoo. In the first 8 days of the invasion the zoo was repeatedly ransacked with animals being killed, stolen, and eaten Iraqis. Only 35 of the estimated 750 animals within the collection survived the first 8 days of the invasion. In fact, the first civilians allowed entry into Iraq after the invasion was a team of zoo keepers brought in by the coalition. Arriving at the zoo they tried to save the remaining animals from starvation and dehydration.
This has happened to multiple zoos and menageries in the last 12 months. One of the latest has been the Tripoli Zoo. Surrounded by heavy fighting for an extended period the zoo has had severe staffing and funding issues. Luckily the zoo appears to have stabilized but is still lacking funding. Interestingly, the zoo has a large collection of Lions and many of them were owned by the oust leader, Gadafi’s son who visited the zoo throughout much of the uprising. Here is a nice photo series recently posted about the zoo.