Tripoli’s zoo still looking for help to keep its animals fed

Here and Now

Tripoli’s Zoo is closed to the public now, it’s officials desperately trying to secure more funding in the wake of the Arab Spring-inspired protests that tossed Muammar Gaddafi from power.

More than 800 animals live in the city’s large and impressive zoo. Zoo Direct Anas Ali is hopeful that the gates can reopen soon, but there is the prospect of a funding crisis within weeks.

“We haven’t got the money we need to feed the animals. It costs $2,000 a day,” Ali said to the BBC. “Until now, it’s been provided by charities, but that might finish within the next month or so. We hope the new government will help us so we don’t have to close.”

See a photo slideshow from the Tripoli Zoo from the BBC.

Ali said it’s important that Libya has its own zoo. The area immediately around the zoo, which is near Gadhafi’s compound, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The fighting was so close that when a NATO bomb struck its target, a munitions factory next door, a rocket from the factory burst up and out and then crashed through the roof of the hippopotamus habitat at the zoo.

“Luckily, it didn’t injure the hippos,” said BBC correspondent Mark Lowen. “Although Anas Ali said they were certainly effected.”

The lions are also recovering from psychological damage suffered during the war, which kept them from eating for quite some time. That’s starting to reverse, however.

The zoo is a tourist draw. There’s hope that once it can be reopened, it will be a major attraction and a way to help the country get back on its feet.

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