I was away from this country for more or less 15 years. I’m back here visiting my daughter and grandson, who immigrated back to Guyana some time ago. Myself, husband and grandson decided to visit the zoo. My grandson was happy about this and got all excited about seeing live animals, as his mother had taken him there before. I myself got a little excited as I hadn’t visited the zoo in many years and I’m one of those people who gets all emotional when I go back to the past, especially if it was a happy one. Visiting the zoo and Botanical Gardens in the past were happy times for me, especially when I was a kid.
Well, I must mention that all this excitement and the good feelings weren’t surprising or unusual because we’re the descendants of some great men—Vincent Charles and Walter Edmond Roth (grandfather and great grandfather) who were also the curators of the museum and zoo.
Anyway, I was very, very shocked, disappointed and sad to see what I saw at the zoo. First, I saw a lot of cages empty and if there were any birds or animals, it was just a few. My grandson and many others his age (5) most naturally would enjoy the few poor animals, because they don’t know better. If only they had seen the zoo way back and the fine state it was in, they too would question the state it is in today.
What is the public doing? Where are the animal lovers, the nature lovers? How can they turn away from this terrible situation at the zoo and just let it be. What about the Guyana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? Don’t they know what’s going on at the zoo? Some time ago this year 5 or 6 deer died mysteriously.
The museum, zoo and the Botanical Gardens are some of the few tourist attractions we have in the city of Georgetown and the zoo is in such a disgraceful state, I can’t believe it. Don’t tell me the Guyana government doesn’t have the funds to improve things. Look around Georgetown and other places; we surely don’t see real poverty. Go through the city during lunch time, in the evening, you’ll see all the restaurants and bars full to capacity. Guyana can be an even richer country if only there is better management in the government and of course more honesty.
Some people might ask why I am making such a fuss over mere animals in the zoo when there are so many more important matters to deal with, like the cleaning of the city, the trenches, the gutters and getting rid of all the mosquitoes that are everywhere (among other things). Of course all of this could be a lot better if as said before there was better management and more honesty in government.
We must remember that animals have feelings too. They need better food (the right food); bigger and pleasanter habitats, especially for the bigger animals like the jaguar, deer, monkeys and not forgetting the poor harpy eagle, which needs a more spacious and higher exhibit. We all know they like to fly high.
Years ago when visiting the zoo I used to notice wardens around busy cleaning or putting out food, but sadly now I didn’t see a single soul. How things have changed for the worse for the poor animals. I just notice a few visitors walking around with sad looking faces after seeing some sad looking animals. As the saying goes, Vincent and Walter Roth must be turning in their graves. If international animal protection agencies paid our zoo a visit, surely it would be condemned.
Ok, in days gone by we all know things were different. We either didn’t care or didn’t know better or maybe we never gave a thought about how we should care for animals. Today we understand differently and better. We humans are showing our loving feelings more freely now. I’m sure many would agree with me. Not only for our brothers and sisters but also for our animals, plants and our environment. We do care now. So we should all try to improve the situation at the zoo. Keeping it clean with a pleasant smell is the first step. Expanding the exhibits, especially for the bigger animals, giving them a more natural outlook, is something that they really need. Also more space for the birds where they can breed comfortably.
I’m imploring our new government, the animal protectors, animal lovers and all those who care to please come out and get involved in doing a good and worthwhile deed for our beloved wildlife at the zoo. Let’s bring back our zoo to the way it was once upon a time, but even better. It can be done. It only requires us to take a little more interest in what’s going on in our country. Then other countries will be willing to donate more species or other rare species to our zoo. Then surely it will be a pleasure for all to visit it.
While waiting to send off my letter, I happened to read in the KN of February 27 that the National Parks Commission had some interesting things to say concerning the zoo. I must say, I am happy to see that I’m not the only one who is concerned about the zoo’s situation. I’m also happy to see that the National Parks Commission is involving international expertise. It’s always good to have more experienced persons around. It’s good to know that others will be involved in making this dream come true, as, for example, the formation of the ‘Friends of parks and gardens‘ and the assistance of the private sector. How wonderful! I see also, they are going to have trained and specialized staff, among other expertise. This I think is very important. How great!
On the subject of what kind of animals the zoo wants to source. I would like to suggest, first from our own country, where there are numerous animals and rare birds and of course from other tropical countries, and some from cold countries that can survive or can adapt themselves to our hot climate.
We all know that this new plan for the zoo will take time and will cost a lot, but I know our country can manage this if they’re willing to, and with the help of international partners and friends and our local private sectors, this project can surely come to fruition. I would like to suggest that the Kiddies Park that is situated in the zoo should be removed and put somewhere in the garden. I think this would be more appropriate.
Meanwhile, I would like to say to all those who have made promises to continue supporting the National Parks Commission in the rehabilitation and upgrade works planned for the zoo and ask them to keep to their word, so we can have a bright future for the zoo. When we finally see the results of all the good hard work that the NPC and all those who helped have done, we the citizens of Guyana can say, “Well done! now we do have something good and worthwhile, and a healthy and sustainable environment for our animals and future generations.“
Delis Roth Mann