Brooke, Donkey Sanctuary, ESAF halt feeding working animals near pyramids
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2011:
CAIRO–The Egyptian army on Arpil 11, 2011 forcibly cleared
Tahrir Square in central Cairo of protesters demanding the trial of
former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Two months to the day after
Mubarak left office, turning the government over to army leaders,
thousands of Egyptians joined protests against army rule.
But, anticipating that tourism would rapidly recover over
the Easter weekend, the Brooke Hospital for Animals, the Donkey
Sanctuary, and the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends jointly
announced on April 11 that they would stop feeding working animals in
the vicinity of the Giza Pyramids on April 21, the Thursday
preceding Good Friday.
“In total around 80,000 kilograms of feed has been
distributed to more than 8,000 animals, and over 16,000 veterinary
treatments have been carried out in Cairo, Edfu, Aswan and Luxor,”
said the Brooke.
The feeding began on February 13, five days after the London
Daily Mail published an anonymous photo portfolio purporting to show
“the sad plight of dozens of Egyptian horses who have starved to
death,” because tourism at the Giza pyramids nearly halted after
demonstrations against Mubarak erupted on January 25. This left many
riding stables in the vicinity without feed or funds.
The photos actually showed a longtime government-designated
carcass dump near the pyramids, including the remains of horses who
died from disease even before the anti-Mubarak protests began, Cairo
activist Dina Zulfikar later told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Conducting mobile veterinary clinics in the pyramids area
beginning on February 10, the Brooke and the Donkey Sanctuary
initially said they found no starving horses.
But meanwhile Egyptian Society of Mercy for Animals
cofounders Mona Khalil and Susie Nassar distributed photos showing
emaciated horses in the pyramids area. ESMA began an independent
ESAF president Ahmed al Sherbiny confirmed that the condition
of the working horses, donkeys, and camels in the pyramids area,
never optimal, had deteriorated. The Brooke and the Donkey
Sanctuary then funded feeding horses and donkeys, but did not fund
feeding camels. ESAF fed camels in partnership with the
Austrian-based organization Vier Pfoten. Humane Society
International veterinarian Hassan Al Maraghy also arranged feeding
for the camels.
While the joint Brooke, Donkey Sanctuary, and ESAF feedings
would end on April 20, said Nasser Hosny, general manager for
Brooke Hospital operations in Egypt, the three charities might
“initiate small-scale distributions after Easter, based on the
situation and the level of the need, but only for the most needy
animals. The Brooke, ESAF and the Donkey Sanctuary will continue
operating in the area,” Hosny continued, “performing the usual
treatment and educational interventions through our mobile clinics.
A special long-term educational program is planned for the next six
months, starting April 19, to raise the awareness of the owners
and users [about good animal care],” Hosny added.
ESMA cofounder Susie Nasser was skeptical. “I do not agree
at all that the situation of the horses is any better,” Nasser
e-mailed to a long list of international supporters, mentioning that
on April 10 “we fed 650-plus horses, many of them still pitifully
thin, and moreover in dire need of medical treatment. As far as
tourists being back in Egypt,” Nasser said, “they are certainly not
in the pyramids area. Our society, with our very limited
resources,” Nasser said, “will continue to feed the starving horses
as long as we see fit, which we anticipate to be for months to
come. We have also been treating the horses,” Nasser noted, “as
many of them have terrible wounds, and quite obviously many of them
also are suffering from parasites.”
Nasser and Khalil sent with Nasser’s message a portfolio of
recent photos showing horses at their April 10 feeding visit whose
body condition was in many cases as bad as 7-8 on the 9-point Henneke
body condition scale. At nine a horse is beyond recovery. Horses
scoring seven or higher are unfit to work, and will be unfit for
work for weeks, at least, even after receiving proper nutrition,
because they will have to rebuild muscle strength as well as putting
on weight. Many horses who score poorly are never again fit to do
strenuous work–such as carrying tourists through the Giza sand dunes
beneath the Egyptian sun.
Several of the horses in the ESMA portfolio also urgently
needed hoof trimming. Some were shown trying to eat from dumpsters
and garbage bags, with a high likelihood of ingesting plastic bags
or bag fragments.
Ingesting plastic bags is a major killer of street cattle in
India, and can cause fatal intestinal blockages in horses, too.
“We know the issue is big,” Khalil told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“Stopping the feeding is a very difficult matter. We will feed,
treat and educate as long as we can afford it,” Khalil pledged.