We discovered the terrible situation at the zoo three years ago. During a casual visit with the organisation’s president, we saw an emaciated Atlas lion that was dead in its enclosure. At the time, the zoo’s directors told us the lion had just died. But we had serious doubts when we saw the state of the carcass. We think the carcass had been there for a long time, but the zoo’s administrators were not in any hurry to remove it.
So we decided to examine the zoo’s situation in more detail. For several months now, we’ve been visiting every Sunday and can confirm the disastrous living conditions for the animals. There are, for example, four brown bears at the zoo, the only such bears in Morocco. These animals are fed carrot peelings and bread. They’ve never eaten fish. [Editor’s Note: In the wild, brown bears are omnivores. Although mostly vegetarian, they also eat fish and insects]. We’ve also helped out during the Atlas lions’ feedings, and saw that the meat was so rotten that it had turned blue. That’s not surprising, since the zoo keeps the food in a room without even a fridge.
“I saw visitors give monkeys cigarettes!”
The security of animals at the zoo is also inadequate. Apart from the ticket controller, there are no guards inside. There were no guards to tell visitors not to throw food at the animals or frighten them. Most of the enclosures are made of basic metal bars; there are neither wire nets nor plexiglass. Visitors can throw whatever they into the enclosures and put the animals’ lives in danger. I’ve even seen people give cigarettes to monkeys!
When the animals are injured, the zoo is in no hurry to treat them. For example, there was a fight between two lamas recently, and one of them was injured in the neck. This happened on a Sunday, and when we called the zoo’s director to tell him about it, he told us he had to wait until Monday for the vet to be available.
There’s no doubt the zoo lacks resources. The entry ticket costs 10 cents, while it costs 4 euros at the Rabat zoo. How are they supposed to run a zoo with so little revenue? The state does provide for a portion of its budget, but when we look at the state of the place, we wonder where the money’s gone.
In 2012, after a zoo visit, the mayor of Casablanca promised to set up a plan to completely renovate the zoo. There was even a plan to expand the zoo from its current size of 2.5 hectares to 10 hectares. However, we’re still waiting for the work to start.