Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

MinnPost logo 7th Anniversary

MinnPost’s online auction is now live!
Register and start bidding today

Top 10: world's worst zoos

BOSTON — Unfortunately, when it comes to the worst zoos in the world, the stories are pretty much all the same: small cages and living spaces, unnatural surroundings of concrete and iron, under-feeding and under-watering and well, cruelty in general.

However, some zoos go above and beyond expectations of horrible.

Ever hear of a zoo misplacing a few animals? How about one that slowly turns into a taxidermy museum? Animals being shipped two-by-two on a "Noah's Ark" to a different country?

The zoos listed here are places you don't want to bring the kids. Or yourself for that matter.

1. Giza Zoo — Egypt
The Giza Zoo in Cairo  seems to have fallen upon a King Tut amount of bad luck with their animals over the past few years. In 2004, the zoo was expelled from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums for many reasons, including substandard results during an inspection and the inhumane killing of two gorillas thought to be infected with the Ebola virus. Then, in 2006, its birds began to die from Avian Flu and in 2008 two men broke into the zoo and killed two camels. Now, it seems that for a little illegal personal payment, zookeepers are letting zoo-goers play with any animal they want, including bears, lion cubs, elephants, tigers and seals.


2. Glkand Zoo — Iraqi Kurdistan
Not only does the Glkand Zoo in Iraq  have the usual zoo problems of too-small living spaces and general cruelty towards animals, it also seems to be a location of illegal animal smuggling. An increasing trend among the Iraqi wealthy is to acquire a private zoo with the most exotic animals possible, and the Glkand Zoo is a transaction point for some of these exchanges. The zoo owner openly says that he smuggles some animals for private zoos, like birds and monkeys, but denies that he does so with more dangerous animals, like lions. Although, there seems to be proof to the contrary.

3. Mumbai Zoo — India
The only zoo in Mumbai  is taking an interesting approach to keeping diversity among its animals. Unable to replace animals as they die because the existing enclosures don't conform to anti-cruelty guidelines, the zoo has decided to stuff the animals and put them up on display in a taxidermy museum instead.

4. Kiev Zoo — Ukraine
In 2008, 51 animals died in the Kiev Zoo  and in recent months, they lost a 39-year-old elephant, a white camel and a bison. Two sick yaks were saved by veterinarians. Zoo authorities blame a mysterious middle-aged man for poisoning the animals, while critics point at substandard living conditions and negligent handling by unqualified zoo administration.

5. San Antonio Zoo — Texas
The San Antonio Zoo  was rated number one in the 2009 list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants compiled by In Defense of Animals — a title they've had for the second year straight. For two years the unfortunate elephant named Lucky was kept in solitary confinement in an area too small for her. And then the zoo decided to add another elephant to the tiny space to create a "herd."

6. Bowmanville Zoo — Ontario, Canada
In June 2010, three animals were stolen while in transit from Nova Scotia to the Bowmanville Zoo  in Ontario. The zoo offered a $20,000 reward for the return of the animals and $2,000 for a picture that showed the animals being given water. Police believed it was an "opportunity crime," and that the thieves were unaware of their cargo. Imagine opening up that trailer to find a Bengal tiger and two camels. However, a few days after the supposed theft, the trailer was found just north of Montreal with the animals safe and sound inside.
 
7. Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo — China
Over the course of three months, 11 rare Siberian tigers died in this now closed zoo in northeastern China. A manager at the zoo said the tigers died of various diseases, but local authorities and wildlife officials believe they died from malnutrition. The tigers were apparently fed cheap chicken bones as food and were kept in very small cages. China has only about 50 tigers left in the wild, but there are about 5,000 kept in captivity.

8. Oradea Zoo — Romania
A pride of 13 lions was saved from the Oradea Zoo  where they were living in small concrete enclosures, including a 15 foot-by-12 foot cage that was home to four adult lions. The zoo could no longer afford to keep them and they were due to be put down if a new home couldn't be found. Luckily the Yorkshire Wildlife Park's animal director visited the zoo and was moved to raise the money to relocate them to the United Kingdom.

9. Dhaka Zoo — Bangladesh
In 2009, the Dhaka Zoo  in Bangladesh lost massive numbers of animals. As many as 21 rare animals died in one year and after the death of a giraffe in September 2009, the zoo curator and deputy curator were temporarily suspended and an investigation of the animals' deaths began. The zoo has more than 2,000 animals and some 150 species.

10. North Korea
Luckily Robert Mugabe's "Noah's Ark" of animals from Zimbabwe seems to have been stalled due to a storm of outrage by conservationists about the horrible zoo conditions in North Korea. This plan was reminiscent of the time when Mugabe sent two rhinos to North Korea in the 1980s, only for them to die a few months after being relocated. Wildlife experts said that it was unlikely that the animals, particularly the two baby elephants, would have survived the 7,000-mile flight, not to mention North Korea's cold temperatures and poor living conditions.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

Comments (1)

I've lived in Kiev for 14 years and can confirm that the Kiev zoo provides a pretty awful habitat for most of the animals that remain there. But the popular speculation surrounding the numerous animal deaths and poisonings is that there are individuals or groups within the hugely corrupt city administration who want to relocate the zoo as it sits on a valuable piece of real estate. Their motives don't include compassion and animal rights.