This last week I visited our national zoo and was impressed by the entrance gate and that’s about it. Whoever is ultimately in charge of our one and only zoo in Guyana should be ashamed of their stewardship and resign forthwith. Editor, I remember going to our zoo as a little boy and through my teenage years and the zoo was much better than it is today; no wonder polls in Trinidad and Jamaica showed that the people of those islands think that we were better off under our British overlords because when one walks around the zoo, one has to be sad at what is presently there compared at what was there when the British owned us all.
Editor, don’t those in authority care about our children and their avenues for outings like visiting our national zoo? Don’t they care about the impression on visitors to our country who might want to visit the zoo to see the many species of animals Guyana possesses? Don’t they care about the conditions of the animals which occupy the cramped and inhumane quarters which are provided? Don’t they have the vision to create a vibrant and exciting panorama of our many species of animals and birds which inhabit this blessed country? Don’t they see the great importance in the education of our people, especially our children, in actually visualizing the great variety of our animal species because one can travel the length of Guyana and not see even one-eighth of our species? Don’t they understand that a national zoo in a country like Guyana is a prize which is a national treasure and thus has to be treated as such? Don’t they see the insult to our pride as a nation that our only zoo which should be the best in the Caribbean, is really a jokey zoo?
Editor, some of these people who run this country do so just like they run our zoo, with no real vision and a readiness to embrace new ideas. It only takes a trip to a zoological park such as that in San Diego, California, where new concepts in care and attention for the animals and birds are visible for all to see. For example, there are high fenced structures with trees inside and with hundreds of birds being able to move by flying around; in our zoo, the macaws are in cramped quarters and are mostly lethargic when in fact, we should have dozens of macaws in high fenced structures, free to fly and move around easily, as in San Diego. If our zoo had this, visitors would be greatly impressed, but the variety of birds in our country is not represented in a way for visitors to be impressed and to leave with an understanding that our country is really a vast habitat for winged fauna.
The jungle cats which are exhibited are in cramped and stinky quarters which inhibit these amazing animals and leaves the visitor with a sad feeling for these beautiful creatures. Much more could be done to make their life a more comfortable one, considering their freedom in the wild. The habitat in our zoo for reptiles is too small and cramped and inhibits the visitor from understanding the vast array of reptilian creatures which inhabit our dense and dangerous prehistoric jungles. We have one of the most dangerous snakes in the world, the bushmaster, and in our zoo, there is no representation of this beautiful and deadly creature; reptiles are always a great attraction for visitors. The so-called aquarium is a disgrace, and I would say that the aquariums at the Chinese restaurant, New Thriving, are more impressive than those in our zoo! With all the varieties of fish life in Guyana, it is a crying shame that those in charge would provide such a weak exhibition to any visitor.
Editor, I know that Guyana is not as rich as California and I am not suggesting that our zoo can be like theirs, but at least we can make the zoo a much better place for visitors, especially our children, who need to know and understand the great reservoir of different species of animals existing in this country from the unique anteater to the red-necked vultures.
Our country has enough species of fauna to make our zoo unique and spectacular in its own right, and for it to become a real tourist attraction and an educational experience for all its visitors. If we can build a stadium, a bridge, many new government buildings and talk of securing our environment and our national heritage, why is it so hard to encourage more expenditure by government together with rich people’s philanthropy to create a vibrant zoo and botanical gardens?
Our citizens and their children deserve better, so please Mr Government, loosen up the VAT, lottery, LCDS, Consolidated Fund and car duty billions and give us a zoo which will make us proud and our children happy and inquisitive about the flora and fauna of our dear country.
Cheddi (Joey) Jagan (Jr)