Saving Tripoli Zoo

“You become responsible forever, for what you have tamed.”~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Longtime readers of my blog will recall I spent a goodly six months working with loving knitters in the US, UK and Canada to make and send over 100 beautiful handmade scarves to young schoolgirls in the very remote village of Askole, Pakistan. So they will now not be surprised to learn I have in the last week been doing my best to assist efforts to restore a normal routine [read FOOD AND WATER] to animals living in Libya’s Tripoli Zoo. My initial efforts were directed at trying to secure a water tanker in Tunisia that could take water to the zoo, in conjunction and under the guidance of a lovely British fellow named Matthew who rang me from his UK office at Specialists Wildlife Services, apparently after being alerted that I had begun writing to wild animal sanctuaries in Africa who might assist with the plight of the Tripoli Zoo animals. “They can’t be moved,” said Matthew. “Here’s the plan. Water. Food. Vets.” OK, then! One tweet after another had me assembling a loose network of well meaning folks, but, honestly? I found Twitter particularly challenging as a vehicle for social change. I will spare you all the in-between bits, but it could be summed up thusly: OMG. Goodness was at hand, however, and at last internationally known and respected veterinarian and zoologist Dr. David Jones, Director of North Carolina Zoo was secured to oversee efforts. As it turns out, Dr. Jones has vast experience with zoos in the ME and was instrumental in helping both the Baghdad and Kabul Zoos when they were in dire need.

Additionally, thanks to a wonderful woman in MA named Lisa Gibbs, I am in communication with a vet in Tripoli who had been doing his best to relocate pets who had been abandoned in the midst of fighting in Libya. Even owners who had arranged for their care discovered their caretakers had also left Tripoli as Freedom Fighters advanced. His efforts are now directed at helping the zoo. I was sent this note this morning, after a visit he made yesterday:

Tripoli Zoo

I went yesterday to the Tripoli zoo and met the general manager, workers, animal trainers and saw most of the animals. I will write some points and please, if you could, distribute it on facebook and to other web sites if you like.

1- The zoo needs good managment (very important)
2- They have very little water and they use it for drinking water for the animals
3- They are cleaning the animal houses maybe every 3 days
4 The yards are very hot (more than 35C yesterday) and they cannot wet the area because of water problem
5- Indoor houses are very dirty and smell bad
6- The animals are not getting their entire dietary needs met; they have had no food for a long time
7- Hippos, Tiger,etc.: indoor houses are dirty and they cannot swim in the pool because the water has not been changed for long time.
8- Some places, animal houses, etc. affected by NATO bombing (not important in this time). [NOTE: Read the hippo house had been bombed by grenades! It’s very close to Gaddafi compound! KH]
Maybe I forgot some other things but the zoo is at risk and needs urgent help especially to buy WATER , FOOD, and MEDICINES. I think cleaning is very important to save the animals now–otherwise they will get sick and will die maybe not now, but later. The zoo is beautiful and has rare animals (will check the names in English and send it to you later). The photos are with my colleauge; I will send when I receive. [Note: electricity down in Tripoli at this moment. As soon as I receive these pics, which I have requested, I will post here ASAP! KH]

Best regards
Dr. Jalal

So, dear readers, if you know anyone in Tripoli who loves animals, and can get themselves safely over to Tripoli Zoo, I think there are some cages that need cleaning out (at very least).

I had read via Twitter yesterday that water was restored to 70% of Tripoli, and that residents were washing their cars. It doesn’t sound like the water needed to maintain a zoo has been fully restored, however. My research has led me to discover well water is available in outlying areas. I feel confident that once the funds start pouring in, probably by Thursday, if not sooner, that the situation will improve radically.

Below is a press release I’ve just received from the press person at North Carolina Zoo which will provide information on what they are doing and how you can help.

I’ve made a commitment to add updates to this post as they come in, so this blog is now a dedicated space for communications for the next week. Please check back for updates, which I promise to post as soon as I receive.

North Carolina Zoo

FOR RELEASE: September 6, 2011 Telephone: 336-879-7204


ASHEBORO, N.C.—The North Carolina Zoo, working with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and several other international animal welfare organizations, is leading an effort to provide funds to assist animals in the Tripoli Zoo in the capital city of war-torn Libya.
N.C. Zoo Director Dr. David Jones is spearheading the effort to raise up to $100,000 to pay for animal food, the most pressing need for the zoo at this time, according to sources in Libya. Television reports from CNN and MSNBC as well as a number of international print articles last week documented the plight of animals in the Tripoli Zoo where civil war has left the animals short of food and water.
According to information obtained from animal welfare organizations in nearby Egypt and other sources, the water problem had improved by the end of last week. But money for animal food is not readily available and only about a one-week food supply was on hand at the zoo. Jones is working with the Boston-based International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has recently been successful in providing some funds to Tripoli Zoo officials, to determine the best means for getting funds to the Libyan zoo. In addition, he is in discussions with CNN to determine if the cable network, which has news crews in Tripoli, can provide assistance.
Jones worked for many years with zoos in the Middle East during his 25-year tenure with the London Zoo before moving to North Carolina in 1993. He has previously led successful international fundraising efforts for Afghanistan’s Kabul Zoo in 2001 and Iraq’ s Baghdad Zoo in 2003.
News coverage has indicated that the zoo’s buildings and infrastructure remain in fairly good condition, unlike the war damage to zoos in Kabul and Baghdad. Electricity is also reportedly available at the zoo, although service has been lost intermittently. But there are no immediate plans to send personnel into Tripoli due to the remaining concern over security, Jones said.
As it did for the Kabul and Baghdad zoos, the N.C. Zoological Society, the N.C. Zoo’s private support organization, will again administer the funds for the Tripoli Zoo effort. Contributions should be marked for the “Tripoli Zoo” and may be sent to: N.C. Zoo Society, 4403 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, N.C. 27205. In addition, donations via credit card can be made beginning Thursday, September 8, on the Zoo Society’s website at[Note: As fate would have it, this site is in the middle of a revamp. If you go before Thursday, 9/8, you will be redirected to the zoo. I have been assured that a donations can be received by Thursday> KH]
The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee A. Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.

Readers, please feel free to send out a link to this post or to copy and paste any part of it to send out to your networks. RT’s on Twitter are appreciated! You can contact me on Twitter at @KathrynHallPR Thank you so much. This is gritty stuff. Tend your hearts! And please say a prayer for the well being of the dear animals at Tripoli Zoo, and for all those stepping up to the invitation to lend an open heart and an open hand.

Thank you!

Love and animal blessings,
Kathryn xoxo


IFAW aid arrives & staff at Tripoli Zoo in #Libya prepare food for the animals

IFAW photo of one very hungry Tripoli Zoo tortoise getting vital aid!


First aid for Tripoli’s afflicted zoo animals

FOUR PAWS International Animal Welfare Foundation’s emergency relief team is the first to arrive on site at the Tripoli Zoo, in response to the international appeal for help in the impending crises facing more than 700 animals, abandoned and traumatized by the ongoing conflict in war torn Libya.

The emergency relief team is made up of dedicated professionals from FOUR PAWS and is accompanied by Jeremy Mansfield, South Africa’s most acclaimed and award winning radio personality, and honorary grandson of former president, Nelson Mandela.

Recent news reports broadcast worldwide, showed the zoo animals lethargic and suffering due to lack of water and food. FOUR PAWS will be working in cooperation with various organizations and volunteers to establish a secured feeding system and medical support for the animals.

The civil unrest in Libya has gone on unabated since early 2011. The zoo was all but abandoned as the rebel forces closed in on their target, the animals forgotten.

“We made a complete evaluation of the animals to determine their individual needs and the highest priorities” says Dr Amir Khalil, the FOUR PAWS Emergency Relief Project Leader. Vaccinations that had spoiled due to broken down refrigeration systems were provided yesterday by the organization.

“Today we will start implementing a system of medical care, enrichment and feeding, starting with the 32 predators. We have to also find a food source for the antelope very urgently” stated Dr Khalil.

Over the coming weeks the team will assist in ensuring a steady flow of supplies needed to care for the animals and provide training and expertise to the zoo staff.

“FOUR PAWS needs assistance and support to care for these victims of war” appeals Dr Khalil “They cannot escape or seek refuge in another country – they are locked up in cages, and their suffering is tremendous.” In the background, a tiger chews on his tail making the appeal all the more impactful.

FOUR PAWS is no stranger to providing aid to animals in the Middle East, having helped hundreds of animals deserted during the Egypt uprisings earlier this year.

For those who want to lend a helping hand, Four Paws can be contacted on 0583031651 . There banking details are as follows:
FOUR PAWS Animal Welfare Foundation
First National Bank
Account number: 6213 9547 759
Branch code: 230 133
Reference: Tripoli Emergency Relief

Media Contact
Name : Fiona Miles Email :
Mobile : 0027 83 408 0463 Office : 0027 58 303 1651

For additional information and pics please visit Morwenna Grills’ latest post on Wild About Animals. Newest post here.

September 10, 2011: FOUR PAWS UPDATE:
The current status can be reported as follows:

1. There are over 700 animals, over 50 species.
2. The situation with the animals in need is much better.
3. The supply of food has improved and we will be purchasing food for one month for the animals at the zoo.
4. Four Paws will set up a secured feeding program tomorrow for one month.
5. The water problem has been resolved.
6. There is a dedicated team at the Tripoli zoo working with the animals. The team needs further training in working with the animals.
7. We will be starting an enrichment program at the zoo with the brown bears tomorrow.
8. Vaccinations: Today we started with vaccinations of the big cats.
9. Infrastructure: The zoo’s infrastructure is good, was under renovation for many months.

September 17th UPDATE! IFAW has posted a short vid that is very very encouraging and uplifting and will touch your heart if you have been concerned about Tripoli Zoo.

September 29th update from Four Paws:

PRESS RELEASE: Tripoli Zoo, Libya, 29th September 2011

For immediate release: FOUR PAWS Animal Welfare Foundation

Chimpanzee – gift, clown, victim of war

Heartache was to be expected when the FOUR PAWS animal welfare emergency relief team from Europe and South Africa arrived back at the Tripoli Zoo yesterday. After a grueling 48 hour journey through more than 30 checkpoints, they were welcomed, not only by the Zoo staff but by heart wrenching cries.

After months of lack of food and resources for the animals, the FOUR PAWS team has delivered much needed medical and food supplies on behalf of donors from around the world. Work is ongoing to gather the much needed resources.

Whilst working to offload the goods, the FOUR PAWS team could hear cries emanating from an enclosure and found Bosko the chimpanzee, looking desperate and lonely.
“Today I spent time observing Bosko and another two female chimps at the enclosure.” said Dr Amir Khalil, the FOUR PAWS emergency relief team project leader.

“Bosko caught my attention. He looked very sad, and seems nervous and irritated sometimes. I asked the animal keepers to tell me more about him “said Dr Khalil, who quickly formed a bond with Bosko as they share the same birthday.

It was revealed that Bosko arrived at the Zoo almost 18 years ago in November 1993 at about two and a half years old, as a prestigious gift from the president of Zaire. Bosko was a favorite with his keepers and the public.

He was in the entertainment business – no contract and no pay. He was often taken out of the zoo and his tricks included smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and riding bicycles.

The Zoo borders the Gaddafi stronghold and has been bombarded over the last months by gunfire and mortar. The usually enigmatic and social Bosko’s behavior had changed, he became sad and withdrawn.

FOUR PAWS will provide needed medications, food, veterinary care and enrichment to ensure that the Tripoli Zoo can start to care for the traumatized animals and build their facilities up independently. Enrichment plans for primates have been drafted and given to the zoo for implementation, to improve dietary, social, environmental and behavioral quality of life.

“We will implement more enrichment and improve the environment for a better future for Bosko and the other animals here” commented a determined Dr Khalil. “Wild animals are not for our entertainment and gratification. When I see them in these conditions I see their longing to be free”

To help FOUR PAWS care for Bosko and his fellow animals, please contact:

Media Contact
Name : Fiona Miles Email :
Mobile : 0027 83 408 0463 Office : 0027 58 303 1651

Contributions to the emergency relief efforts for the Tripoli Zoo animals can be made to:

FOUR PAWS Animal Welfare Foundation
First National Bank
Account number: 62139547759

December 31, 2011: A lovely gift–the link to this encouraging post, sent by a Twitter friend currently visiting Tripoli. Happy New Year.

14 Responses to “Saving Tripoli Zoo”

  1. Good Luck, Kathryn. This is such important work!

  2. Thank you, Mary! Yes, agreed! Kathryn xoox

  3. I know how hard you worked on this — well done. the baby hippos will soon be re-hydrated thank to you : )

  4. Good work, Kathryn — Saint Ex. ws soooo right on!!

  5. Hi, Michelle, Many thanks! Yes, those baby hippos tugged on everyone’s heart. May they be bathing in clear cool water soon! Kathryn xoxo

  6. Welcome, Dorothy and thank you. Saint Exupery is living in this story, for sure! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Wonderful work, mom! I know how hard you’ve worked on this.. So inspiring!! Love you, Antonia xoxo

  8. Thanks, Sweetheart. Lots of people coming to the fore now. Good to see people who love animals making contributions large and small. It all counts! Love, Mom xoxo

  9. Kathryn, Susan also told me about this. I think her friend, Marie told her about it. I will forward your link to her and if she finds out stuff through her contacts, ask her to post as well. Thanks for trying your best to help out.
    Hugs from here, Julie

  10. Hi, Julie, Thank you so much for considering passing along the information. So appreciated. Hugs from CA! Kathryn xoxo

  11. Thanks for posting my blog on your site Kathryn. There’s a new update on there now as I’ve spoken to Dr Khalil from Four Paws who is at the zoo. Things are looking more cetain for the short term, but funds are still needed.

  12. Good morning, Morwenna. Thanks so much! Kathryn xxoo

  13. If I’m ever in Tripoli I will be sure to sign up to do some volunteer work. Good job!

  14. Hi, David, Every hand is needed. Kathryn

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