Egypt’s Giza Zoo, the largest in the country, has recently reopened its doors to the public after a six-month closure amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The move came after the government’s recent decision to reopen some parks with a limited daily number of tickets to be sold.
“We currently receive up to 3,500 visitors (per day) to avoid overcrowding,” Mohamed Ragaei, head of Egypt’s Central Administration for Zoos, told Xinhua.
He said the zoo has applied precautionary measures against COVID-19, including increasing the sanitation procedures and maintaining social distancing.
“We also detect visitors’ temperatures and no one is allowed to get into the zoo without wearing a face mask … Sanitization and disinfection for the zoo and its workers are done every day,” Ragaei noted.
Amid declining deaths and infections from COVID-19, Egypt has been easing restrictions over the past two months as part of a coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.
Giza Zoo, a main destination for Egyptian families with their children on holidays, was closed on March 17 as part of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Egypt, which has so far registered 98,285 cases including 5,362 deaths and 70,419 recoveries.
Opened in 1891, Giza Zoo is the largest zoo in Egypt and the Middle East, covering an area of about 336,000 square meters and attracting about 3 million visitors annually.
The reopening of the zoo is important not only for visitors but also for the psychological state of the animals, according to Ragaei.
“Some animals, such as monkeys and chimpanzees, can be depressed for loneliness as they used to see and play with hundreds of visitors every day,” the official revealed.
He said the zoo established a program during the closure to prevent sensitive animals from developing depression.
“We are happy that the program has shown great success and we are happier now that the animals are back to normal and started to interact with the visitors,” Ragaei told Xinhua.
Lining up near a cage that houses a number of chimpanzees, families were watching the big animals dancing and greeting them.
“I have decided to bring my children to the zoo because we have been staying at home for several weeks,” Ekhlas Nazmi, a housewife, told Xinhua as she observed her kids feeding a little monkey with the help of a zoo guard.
Sitting under a big tree near a cage full of ostriches, Mohammed Ahmed, a system operator from Ismailia Province, east of Cairo, drove some 120 km to spend a day with his family and friends at the recently-reopened zoo.
“We did not think twice once we knew that the zoo will reopen,” the young father of two in his late 20s told Xinhua.
Ahmed, a wildlife lover, said the animals and the zoo look in good condition after the long closure, adding zoo workers are paying great attention to sanitation and hygiene procedures.
“The place is safe and my kids are so happy to see the animals and play in the gardens of the zoo,” he said.