Concern for animals who were locked up in Cairo under curfew

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2011:


CAIRO–Unable to move about Cairo and surrounding suburbs
during the January/February 2011 Egyptian unrest, due to barricades
guarded by police, the military, and ordinary citizens trying to
protect their neighborhoods, animal rescuers did what they could by
cell telephone and e-mail. When electronic communications were shut
down for several days as well, those trapped in their homes could
only imagine the plight of animals trapped at the Giza Zoo, in pet
stores, and left behind by foreigners who heeded warnings to

One of the first bulletins about animal welfare in Cairo to
reach the outside world after the electronic communications blackout
ended came on February 2, 2011 from Egyptian Society for Mercy to
Animals cofounder Mona Khalil. “Not just Americans but many European
Union and United Nations employees left,” under orders, Khalil
said. “We are left with a list of names and homes to check for
animals, and others are trying to find people to care for their
animals. We are collecting abandoned animals too,” Khalil added,
“who clearly are pets, as some did not know what to do, so released
their pets.”
Wrote Ahmed and Noor Diab, “Shelter animals need food, zoo
animals need food, working animals need food, and the horses and
donkeys in the tourist areas have nothing because we have no tourists
“Today I went to the shelter–the first time [since January
25] that I have been able to leave my house in relative safety,”
reported ESMA cofounder Susie Nassar on February 4. “We found a
Dalmatian dog dumped in Maadi and three Persian cats dumped in
various areas, plus orphaned puppies and kittens. We are terrified
of how many pets may have perished in the locked pet shops. Even in
the best of circumstances these animals are kept in terrible
conditions. We will not be able to investigate until our volunteers
are able to move freely on the streets.
“We have sent some of our volunteers who live near the Giza
Zoo to go inside and meet with the management. The zoo animals are
being fed, and actually seem less tormented without the visitors.
The authorities assured Mona Khalil that they have stocks of food to
last months,” Nassar continued.
“We are in a continuous struggle at our shelter,” Nassar
said. “We didn’t have any vets for one week, as they were unable to
get to the shelter due to road blocks and curfews. The shelter and
the care of our animals was the responsibility of a few workers who
agreed to stay 24/7. We are struggling to locate and buy food and
medicines, pay the rent and the workers salaries, and even find
detergents and disinfectants. We are only able to offer our animals
one meal, instead of the usual two meals per day. We have been
reluctant to ask our local sponsors to pay their sponsorship pledges,
as we understand that they too do not have cash, or food at home.
Food is becoming increasingly difficult to find and everything has
shot up in price. All the big supermarkets have been closed. Many
have been burnt down. There are very few petrol stations open.”
But the restoration of communications allowed networking to
save the day and the animals in distress. “Regarding the situation
here in Maadi,” Egyptian Society of Friends president Ahmed al
Sherbiny updated on February 11, “people who were not evacuated are
looking after the animals of the owners who were evacuated and will
return. We are monitoring and in touch with them at all times. A
project called Operation Ark has been organized by diplomatic staff
to fly pets out to reunite with their people. There are also a few
individuals who are catching pets who were left behind. We are
giving the assistance that we can.”

WVS assessment

Wrote Worldwide Veterinary Service founder Luke Gamble after
doing assessment on February 17-18, “There is a high likelihood that
during the initial stages of unrest, the animals were not fed within
the Giza Zoo. However, the poor condition and welfare of many of the
animals is not a result of the revolution.”
Rather, Gamble said, the problems he saw were the result of
“the chronic neglect and inadequate husbandry in which they are
kept,” at all times. “The animals all had food and water,” Gamble
noted. “Having witnessed zoo visitors throwing objects at the
animals to gain their attention, I suspect they found peaceful the
ten days or so during which the zoo was shut. An announcement on the
radio expressing concern about Giza Zoo on day four of the
revolution,” Gamble added, “resulted in many people coming to the
zoo to see that the animals were being fed. This undoubtedly ensured
that food and water remain in ready supply.
“There is no denying that the animals in Egyptian pet shops
do not have a great time normally, and they will have certainly
suffered from the unrest,” Gamble continued. “However, with the
political situation settling down, the pet shops are open and the
owners are able to feed and water their animals.

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