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Conditions sub-par in Lebanese zoos

Conditions sub-par in Lebanese zoos
A female baby Coquerel's sifaka hangs onto her mother. Many zoos across Lebanon do not even meet minimum requirements, animal care, activists said. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 10 (UPI) -- Officials say any zoo in Lebanon is a "prison" for animals, citing poor hygiene, improper training and lack of space among animal welfare concerns.

Despite international standards set by animal protection agencies, many zoos across Lebanon do not even meet minimum requirements, animal care activists said.

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Veterinarian Gaby Hilan tells The Daily Star in Beirut zoos require live-in personnel who can deal with animals' needs "better than vets."

"In Lebanon, they hire [unskilled] foreign laborers for low wages to take care of the animals," said Dr. Hilan. She adds the result is usually a neglectful staff. "A zoo in Lebanon is a prison," says Mona Khoury, co-founder of Beirut for Ethical Treatment of Animals. "All the animals are depressed."

Souraya Zattar Mouawad, founder of Animals Protection and Freedom, says animal enclosures in Lebanese zoos do not sufficiently imitate animals' natural habitats. She also says cages are typically too small, causing stress among the animals.

"How will the baboon or chimp survive sitting behind bars with no tree to climb or not enough room to go jogging?" Mouawad says. "What will the crocodile do in an empty pool?"

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Officials at one Beirut zoo responded to concerns at a press conference saying, "we're doing our best," however The Star reported a monkey could be seen during the press conference with a green substance on its mouth, matching the color of the freshly painted enclosure.

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