The Ahmadi Park Zoo

Post by Mark

I didn’t know the Ahmadi Park had a zoo yet alone one that looks this depressing. Based on the pictures a reader sent me this zoo looks even worse than the Kuwait Zoo.

Thanks Meshal


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Why the Kuwait Zoo is a disaster

Post by Mark

Everyone who’s been to the Kuwait Zoo knows how sad and depressing the place is. I’ve written about it a number of times and it’s just something that has bewildered me for a very long time. Why is the zoo the way it is? I always figured the people who worked at the zoo didn’t care about the animals but after meeting a few of the staff members recently I now know that’s not true. Turns out there are two main reasons why the zoo is a disaster, the first is the zoo visitors and the second is they just don’t have enough money to make it better.

The Visitors
Majority of the people who visit the zoo do not respect the animals nor do they respect any of the rules. On one trip to the zoo during the daytime when it was fairly empty I witnessed three different incidents in a space of 15 minutes that summarizes the problem with the people at the zoo. The first incident took place at the elephant enclosure. We noticed a woman with her young kid had climbed over the fence, through the cactuses all the way to the wall of the elephant enclosure and were taking pictures next to the trunk of the elephant that was sticking out. One of the zoo employees who was with me yelled at the women to get away from the elephant because it was dangerous and the woman just coldly took her time making her way back out over the fence as if she had done nothing wrong. A few meters away on the other corner of the enclosure there was a kid next to his mother with a bag of oranges throwing them at the second elephant. Again the zoo employee had to stop the kid from throwing oranges at the elephant while the mother was pretending she wasn’t noticing any of this.

The third incident occurred just a short distance away at the baboon enclosure. As we arrived we noticed a kid was on top of the fence sticking french fries into the baboon cage trying to feed them. His mother and his sister were standing next to him watching and then the baboon stuck his hand out of the cage and the little boy tried to kick it hard but ended up missing and hitting the cage. The zoo employee I was with yelled at the boy to get down and then pulled the kid down but the kid kept climbing back up wanting to feed the baboons. The employee was telling the kid how dangerous it was since the baboons can bite and scratch people when his mother started shouting at her. She told the employee that no one cares about her kids more than her and if this was dangerous she wouldn’t be letting her kids feed the baboons. I was just standing there going WTF?

Visitors are one of the biggest issues of the zoo. I’ve already posted about how some kids try to kill the animals with slingshots and how the trash people throw into the cages end up killing the animals as well. A lot of kids are uneducated and abusive throwing whatever they can at the animals or in the case above trying to kick them. This is why the zoo tries to protect the animals using chicken wire (a fence with very small openings) around the cages, cactus plants, higher fences and security guards. But even those defenses fail all the time, people still manage to shove food into the cages, they pull down the chicken wire fence and put it on top of the cactuses so they can walk on them towards the cages. Even security guards get ignored and the guards are too afraid to confront the visitors anyway.

No Budget
Now this second issue is the bigger of the two. The zoo has limited financial resources. Although Kuwait is a rich country, the zoo and animals aren’t really a priority. Right now there are two major enclosures for example that need to be changed or fixed but the zoo staff haven’t been able to secure the budget for them.

The first problem is the elephant enclosure. Right now there are two elephants and the enclosure is pretty tiny. The larger of the two elephants has started destroying the walls of the enclosure because of frustration. The zoo submitted a proposal to double the size of the enclosure since there is an empty plot right next to the elephant enclosure but the proposal was rejected. Instead a construction company was brought in to install large metal beams around the elephant enclosure as a solution (pictured above).

The second problem that is in dire need of attention is the chimpanzee cage (pictured above). There are four chimps in one of the most depressing cages I’ve ever seen. They have no entertainment whatsoever inside, it’s just a rectangular dark cage with concrete floors and thats it. But, there’s a great spot in the zoo which the staff want to convert to a chimp enclosure. It’s a large space (see below) that can be planted with trees and greenery and chimps can roam free in it. The plan was proposed but rejected due to budgetary reasons. So now the space is gonna be turned into a reptile enclosure filled with a few crocs and turtles which is going to be a complete waste of space.

So although the staff do want to improve the zoo they just don’t have any money do so. It’s very depressing. Even when it comes to fixing enclosures or purchasing new medical equipment it’s all handled in the same low priority “put a bandaid on it” way.

The Solution
The visitors problem is very difficult to fix. One way would be to increase the prices of the tickets (currently it’s 500fils) in hopes that would stop or lessen the amount of visitors that come to the zoo. Educating the parents and the children is too large a task for the zoo to handle and signs and leaflets really have no effect. The most realistic solution to the people problem is to continue and try to protect the animals (I suggested replacing cactus plants with barbed wire) and hiring Kuwaiti security to replace the current expats.

The solution with the budget should be simpler… just increase the budget, but that’s not happening. A more realistic option we discussed is sponsorship by private companies. Companies could sponsor an animal enclosure and the money would be used to build it or improve it. It’s something that’s done in other zoos around the world and in this situation it would be a great way to solve a lot of the problems.

By the way you’re a company and are interested in doing this, email me for more details [Here]

It’s really sad that the zoo doesn’t have any money to improve the situation for the animals. It’s not only the elephants and the chimps that are in trouble but those two are the priorities right now. The baboon cage for example has around 70 baboons inside and is over crowded. The tiger needs more space, the hippos need a new water filter for their pool and one of the giraffes is limping but they don’t have a portable xray machine to check and see why. They even have one animal enclosure nicknamed Guantanamo because it’s that bad.

The problems with the zoo are major and hopefully I was able to bring it some exposure.


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A day at the Kuwait Camel Race Track

Post by Mark

Yesterday me and some friends headed to the Kuwait Camel Race Club in Kabd. I had never been to a camel race before and when my friend proposed it I figured it would be something exciting to do on a quiet Saturday afternoon. My friend got in contact with a person at the track so when we got there we had a guide waiting for us.


[YouTube]

The guide got into the car with us and took us past the security gate into the center of the race track where the camel owners drive alongside their camels during the race. The Kuwait Camel Club no longer use human jockeys but instead use robotic ones due to the controversial child jockey problems faced in the past. During the race the camel owners drive down the track alongside their camels controlling their robot jockeys with wireless controllers. The guide made me tune into 93.1mhz on the FM radio because there was a live broadcast of the actual race so we could follow it that way. You could watch the short video above to get a feel of the view from inside the car. During the start of every race all the cars drive to the starting line where the owners make last checks on their camels. The camels don’t start in front of the spectators stand but 3KM away from the finish line. Once the camels are ready they are lined up and the race begins. The cars drive alongside the camels all the way to the finish line and then the cars drive back to the starting line to check on the other set of camels. We did this maybe five or six times until all the races had been finished and then we drove back to the spectator stands.

There was a black tent near the track where the winner was given his prize. Afterwards we were invited to some dates with camel butter and camel milk. The butter was absolutely delicious and even the milk didn’t taste bad at all, kinda like something between buttermilk and laban.

If you’re interested in visiting the tracks to watch a race it’s very easy to find and do. Take the 6th Ring Road and if 360 Mall is on your right keep heading straight past the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium. Keep driving until you pass the new Kuwait University campus on your left (currently just hills and hills of sand surrounded by hoarding) and then after that in a bit you’ll see a sign for the 604 exit. Once you take the exit stop at the traffic light and then take a left and pass under the bridge. Then keep driving straight until you get to a roundabout, drive straight past that roundabout and keep driving until you get to a second roundabout. Once again pass that roundabout and keep driving until you hit the third roundabout. At the third roundabout go left and then head all the way till the end of the road. Once your read the end go right until you get to the end of the road again and you’ll spot the Kuwait Camel Club on your left. The whole ride shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes. There is no entrance fee and races are held every Saturday from 2:30pm between October and April. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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A different take on the zoo

Post by Mark

With all the problems with the Kuwait Zoo we sometimes forget it still can be a nice place to visit. A friend of mine passed by last week and she wrote about it in a much more positive way than I could ever do.

Did you know that the entrance fee is [500 filss] ONLY?! And now that the weather is still breezy & the sun isn’t eating our heads, half a KD will grant you scenery, active animals, great open space, clear skies, and best of all- an adventure to remember.

Her pictures are also really great so check out her post [Here]


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Awwwwww

Post by Mark

He’s kissing her because she’s injured. This shot was taken awhile ago at the Kuwait Zoo by a friend of mine who works there. [Link]

Note: I have no idea how I ended up with 3 animal related posts in one day.


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Animal deaths at the zoo

Post by Mark

Kids with slingshots are killing animals at the zoo.
How messed up is that? [Link]

via American Girls World


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Cat rescued from tree

Post by Mark

On Friday K’S PATH received a call about a cat that had been stuck in a very tall palm tree for several days. The good Samaritans who called in had made several attempts to get the cat down but were unsuccessful. So, yesterday morning K’S PATH sent out their animal rescue team which proceeded to ask the fire department for help due to the height the cat was found at. K’S PATH, the good Samaritans and the Fire Department worked together to remove the cat and bring it down to safety. Below are some pictures from the rescue.


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Only in the UAE

Post by Mark

Camel in the back of a Supercharged Range Rover. [Link]


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Biodiversity: Not Just a Myth

Post by John Peaveler

This story begins with an honest truth: A summer survey of Kuwait’s public access desert would reveal a landscape comprised primarily of farm animals, garbage, and earth (sand, dirt, and dust). A careful eye would notice some plants, but very few, very small, and nearly dead. I’m talking about those areas outside of the city, where urban civilization ends and nature begins. The obvious reason for the lack of plant life is that we live in a desert. We get very little precipitation. Plants need water. Sand is the natural substrate of the desert. These factors combined equal a quasi-moonscape, right? If you’ve made these conclusions, you are, I’m happy to say, mistaken, and it is my goal in writing this to amaze you with the beauty of Kuwait and encourage everyone to do better for the sake of our natural heritage.

The images of giant drifting sand dunes and storms that swallow up entire houses that so many of us associate with the word desert simply do not represent Kuwait. Our ecosystem is harsh: it’s hot, it’s dry, it’s wind-swept, it’s dusty, but most importantly, it is positively teeming with life. Actually, it SHOULD be positively teeming with life, but for the most part, it isn’t. It would be teeming with life if nature were allowed to take its course. Instead, we see the results of decades of under regulated grazing, off-road driving, and winter camping. It seems grim, I know. I’m here to tell you there is hope. More than that: there is life out there, just waiting for a safe place to live.

Enter the Abdaliya Nature Project.

The Abdaliya Nature Project was conceived in late 2010 by Kuwait Oil Company employees with a particular interest in seeing the restoration of Kuwait’s desert. These employees, acknowledging their role to utilize petroleum resources while protecting Kuwait’s natural environment, took the initiative to preserve an area of desert approximately 1.5 million square meters in size. Prior to reutilization as a nature project, this area was in the public domain and was being used for winter camping. Winter camping in Kuwait, while originally nothing more than a traditional way to enjoy the cool winter months has become so invasive and destructive that the desert ecosystem cannot compete with the concrete, garbage, tires, and other pollution dumped annually upon the spring abandonment of the campsites.

The project began with months of clearing garbage and debris left behind by more than a decade of camping. The most common forms of waste removed included water tanks, concrete blocks, concrete septic tanks, car tires, food and beverage containers, and materials used for shade. With a clean slate to work with, the next steps included constructing access roads and water pipelines followed by the planting of nearly 40,000 seedlings and saplings. Why not simply let the plants return on their own? The answer is diversity. While the “if you build it they will come” model is less costly and much more simple, the result is an imbalance of species. Much like a farmer’s field left empty and consumed by weeds, bare desert in Kuwait will result in a few species taking over the entire ecosystem, thus absorbing nutrients and precipitation and excluding other plants. From the very beginning Abdaliya was planted with a diverse group of native species.

Replanting commenced in early 2011. In less than a year, the Abdaliya Nature Project transformed a barren and utterly destroyed wasteland patch of desert into a unique and incredibly beneficial oasis of flora and fauna. During this period, K’S PATH has proudly been working with KOC on this project doing clean up, wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching, feral dog management, and more. Even in this relatively short period, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of birds, lizards, snakes, rodents, and insects in the project, none of whom were introduced. Our goal for the next two years is to introduce fox and hedgehogs to the area as we continue to strive toward a natural, balanced, and well-managed ecosystem. KOC is also planning to build an education center at the site so that we can begin to spread this message of diversity and protection for Kuwait’s future. The fact is that it will take all of us working together to protect Kuwait’s natural heritage for future generations.

If you participate in winter camping or drive off-road, please consider the implication of your actions. Properly dispose of your waste, remove everything you bring into the desert, and stick to established driving tracks.

For more pictures click [Here]

Post by John Peaveler
Managing Director
Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat (K’S PATH)


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The $100,000 Sheep

Post by Mark

Hot or Not? [Link]


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