Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

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Giza Zoo keeper, Mohamed Aly touches the hand of a chimpanzee called ‘Jolia’ as she reaches through the cage bars after the zoo was closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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Giza Zoo keeper, Mohamed Aly feeds a chimpanzee called ‘Koko’ after the zoo was closed to visitors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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Giza Zoo keeper, Mohamed Rizq feeds a bear called ‘Hany’ after the zoo was closed to visitors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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A Giza Zoo keeper stops to look in the lions cage as he walks through the zoo that is devoid of visitors after it was closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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A zoo keeper walks away after feeding animals at the closed Giza Zoo, during the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. Picture taken April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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Giza Zoo keeper, Mohamed Aly touches the hand of a chimpanzee called ‘Dodo’ as he reaches from his cage after the zoo was closed to visitors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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A bear shakes off water as Giza Zoo keeper, Mohamed Rizq feeds it after the zoo was closed to visitors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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Giza Zoo keeper, Mohamed Rizq feeds a bear called 'Hany' after the zoo was closed to visitors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt April 2, 2020. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
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Updated 03 April 2020

Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

  • The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families
  • Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements

CAIRO: The chimpanzees, lions and hippos of Cairo’s zoo are getting a rare spell of peace and quiet alone with their keepers as a closure caused by the coronavirus outbreak keeps the public away.
The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families seeking diversion from the grind of daily life.
Now keepers do their rounds at the zoo along deserted pathways, feeding animals apples and bananas through the railings of their cages and bringing fresh hay to their enclosures.
Veteran keeper Mohamed Aly holds hands with 12-year-old chimpanzee Jolia in a gesture of friendship, while noting that keepers are careful about cleaning hands between rounds.
“I’ve been here about 25 years,” he said. “(I’ve spent) my whole life with them, they may not speak but they feel everything, and of course all of them are looking for people to play with.”
Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements. It has imposed a night curfew and shut schools, mosques and tourist sites including the pyramids. It has so far confirmed more than 850 cases of the virus, including more than 50 deaths.
The zoo, which has been closed along with others in Egypt since March 18, is sprayed with disinfectant twice a week.


First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

Updated 20 September 2020

First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

  • Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird is estimated to have a global population of only around 100
  • It is believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration

DUBAI: One of the rarest birds in the world has been spotted in Abu Dhabi by two members of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC), according to state news agency WAM. 
Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird - estimated to have a global population of only around 100 - was seen by Oscar Campbell and Simon Lloyd at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, WAM reported on Saturday.
Believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration, the Steppe Whimbrel is an extremely rare sub-species of the widespread Whimbrel, which regularly passes through the Emirates in spring and autumn.
The Steppe Whimbrel seen in Abu Dhabi is believed to have been born this year, making it the first time a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been spotted anywhere in the world, according to WAM.
“On August 29, we were studying around 20 whimbrels on the Saadiyat Beach golf course. We were stunned when one flew off showing the distinctive white wings, clearly different from the other birds,” Campbell and Lloyd told WAM. 
“We immediately realized the potential significance of this so we concentrated on observing the bird and obtaining photographs, allowing us to check the key identification features,” they said.
Campbell and Lloyd then shared their photographs with world’s top expert on Steppe Whimbrels, Gary Allport, who confirmed their findings. 
“The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi is remarkable in itself, and confirms our suspicion that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian peninsula region,” Allport said. 
“What is even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever, anywhere in the world, that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been seen in the field…It’s an amazing find,” he added. 
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Course management was delighted with the discovery. 
“When you look at the significance of sighting the Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi, its history and the subspecies actually being declared extinct in 1995, it is pretty amazing,” Clinton Southorn, Cluster Director of Agronomy for managers Troon Golf, told WAM.
“This is one of the reasons the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has worked hard to achieve its Audubon certification and showcase the positive environmental impact the course can have on the environment,” he added.