The Kuwait Zoo has remained closed for more than a year now due to the coronavirus pandemic. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By Nawara Fattahova

After more than a year of closure, people are wondering when will Kuwait Zoo welcome visitors again. Many also want to know how the animals are faring and what’s new at the zoo, as nothing has been published about the park for the past 14 months. Kuwait Times toured the zoo in an exclusive visit, which was very quiet.

During the visit we received both good and bad news. According to our guide, an adorable dark brown baby bear was born after three previously unsuccessful pregnancies. The sad part is that the female elephant Dalal is all alone, after her male companion died last year.

The zoo also gained animals, which were seized by the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources from people breeding exotic animals at home. A seized lion was quietly resting on a tree in a huge cage, looking very lazy.

In other parts of the zoo, animals relax and enjoy the quiet life with no visitors. A deer that ran towards us to eat a leaf was very nice. A zebra also approached us, as they are used to getting a treat from the zoo staff. The monkeys looked relaxed, probably because they haven’t been teased by visitors for a very long time.

Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Kandari

Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Kandari, a vet and head of the zoo department at PAAAFR, provided more information about the zoo:
Kuwait Times: When do you expect the zoo to reopen?
Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Kandari: This depends on the decisions by the government related to the phases of returning to normal life, along with ensuring the safety of the zoo staff.

KT: Did any renovations or construction work take place during the closure?
Kandari: Yes. Regular maintenance works are going on at the zoo and didn’t stop during the pandemic. New cages are also being built.

KT: How did the absence of visitors affect the animals? Was it positive?
Kandari: It didn’t affect the animals much, but we noticed some animals became less aggressive due to the absence of visitors for the past year.

KT: Did any animals give birth during the closure?
Kandari: Yes of course; there are normal and seasonal births in some groups of animals, especially among ruminants. These include the Asian bear, European deer and Asian deer. No animals died other than the elephant.

KT: Which animals did the zoo gain during the past year?
Kandari: Seized animals are transferred to the zoo by PAAAFR. During the past year, the zoo received an African lion, a white tiger and a baboon.

KT: Were any of the animals infected with COVID-19?
Kandari: No, we didn’t notice any symptoms of the coronavirus in any of the animals.

KT: Is the zoo facing any problems?
Kandari: Our biggest problem is the hot weather and its effect on the animals, along with changes in behavior during the mating season. During this period, some animals become dangerous, so we have to be careful when dealing with them.