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VIDEO: Tasneem Zoo upgrades facilities after criticism and government inspection

Bahrain News
Sat, 11 Aug 2018
Raji Unnikrishnan
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A ZOO in Bahrain has upgraded its facilities following complaints, government officials who conducted a second round of inspections found.

Tasneem Zoo, in Shakura, had come under criticism from animal welfare activists after a baboon was shown in an online video, chained and pacing restless in a cage.

Animal Wealth Directorate officials and members of the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) visited the zoo on July 25 after the video went viral on social media.

They had given the zoo owners 10 days to rectify the situation at the facility.

In the follow-up inspection last Tuesday, officials found that the baboon had been moved to a new cage at the sprawling Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve, in Sakhir.

“We are happy that the inspectors found the changes acceptable,” Tasneem Zoo manager Zahra Al Dasma told the GDN.

“The major changes we made included relocating the baboon to Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve after concerns were raised of him being chained in the small cage,” she said.

“Other changes include open areas for dogs and cats and bigger food and water facilities for the animals.

“The overall cleanliness of the surrounding areas was also met with approval.

“The next phase we are working on features bigger cages for the animals.

“We are always open to healthy criticism, and we will do our best to correct mistakes, if any,” said Ms Al Dasma.

The GDN reported last month that the video which featured the baboon was part of an online petition launched on by visiting Harvard University scholar Colleen Hegarty demanding an improvement in conditions at Bahrain’s zoos, including Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve, Tasneem Zoo and Arman Zoo in Jasra.

BSPCA chairman Mahmood Faraj, who was part of the inspection team, endorsed the improved conditions at Tasneem Zoo.

“There is a big difference in the zoo from the last time we visited,” he told the GDN.

“Now what remains are just simple points to be corrected which will make the zoo one of the best in Bahrain.

“The owner has promised to do the best to develop the park further and we will be conducting regular visits to ensure this.”

Ms Hegarty is in Bahrain on a grant to study animal welfare in the kingdom, as part of her Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies.

Her petition, ‘Stop Animal Cruelty in Bahrain’s Zoos’, addressed to the nation’s municipal and agricultural officials as well as the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE), has been signed by more than 10,595 people.

The petition said that the lion, brown bear and the raccoons in Al Areen and the baboon, cats and dogs in the other zoos were behaving “unusually” which some experts said could be a sign of “anxiety”.

Subsequently, on August 2, Ms Hegarty and the GDN were given a tour of Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve where the SCE officials highlighted that the wild animals at the reserve were rescued from animal traffickers and smugglers.

Officials also revealed plans to expand the nature reserve which apparently is witnessing an increase in the number of animals being housed there.

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