Giza Zoo officials are caught telling grim fairy tale about how three bears died

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  May/June 2013:

CAIRO––Two days after the Giza Zoo announced that the female North American black bears Farah,  Lulu,  and Nabila had killed each other in a nine-hour brawl over a male bear on the evening of May 5,  2013,  the newspaper Al Watan revealed that the bears actually died from effects of over-sedation.  Two of the sedated bears reportedly suffered fatal injuries in falls,  while the third bear drowned.  Two other sedated bears were injured.   Citing an unnamed witness,  Al Watan said the bears were sedated to keep them calm during the Sham El Nessem holiday,  when more than 70,000 people were expected to visit the zoo. The zookeepers’ story was that the bears were shot with a tranquilizer gun to break up the fight over the male––though there was no male in the enclosure.  Further,  as Egyptian General Authority for Veterinary Services chair Osama Salim pointed out,  male animals sometimes fight over access to female animals,  but the converse is so rare that as Salim put it,  “What happened at the zoo is worth studying.” After being tranquilized,  the zookeepers said,  the bears were panicked by the crowd surrounding their enclosure, hours after the zoo had closed.  The bears suffered fatal falls,  the zookeepers claimed,  in attempting to climb to more secure positions. Sara Abou Bakr,  writing for Daily News Egypt,  ascribed the bizarre episode to the combination of underpaid, undertrained zookeepers with “a vicious cycle of covering negligence instead of fixing the problem.” Giza Zoo director Fatma Tamam,  Bakr noted,  is also in charge of oversight of all public zoos in Egypt.  “The duality of positions means that complaints fall into a vicious cycle,”  Bakr wrote.  “If an animal dies at Giza Zoo,  a complaint is filed with the zoo director, who is Tamam.  All complaints against the zoo are handed to the head of the public zoos––also Tamam.  Complaints filed with the Environment Police are also handed to Tamam for investigation.”

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