Recently, pictures of captive lions from a private zoo in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum, went viral as a result of the animals’ severe malnourishment and distressing physical conditions which lacked minimal standards of basic animal welfare. Given the situation at hand, IFAW was compelled to act. Within days, IFAW partook in-person visits to the zoo in question alongside representatives from the Sudan Wildlife Authority, immediately offering assistance and full cooperation.
Through an open and collaborative discussion that was possible due to the trusted relationships IFAW has established in the Middle East and North African region, the team communicated the numerous issues at hand which were jeopardizing the welfare of the animals. Many were driven largely by a general lack of resources in private zoos overall, a fact that was readily admitted. This lack of resources ultimately resulted in malnutrition from the absence of a proper feeding or vaccination program, coupled with a lack of proper veterinary care. Given that the stress of malnutrition directly impacts the immune system, a condition currently affecting the lioness, there existed a high possibility for transmission of zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases---something which the world is all too familiar with currently. The need for more experienced and trained staff to properly care for and monitor the health of the animals was also a key point of discussion.
IFAW emphasized that immediate action must be taken to rectify the situation and save the lives of all these animals, including not only the four lions, but hyenas, pythons, and birds of prey, among others. The group came to the conclusion to immediately close down the two zoos that exhibited the most dire conditions, moving all animals within the week to other, more properly resourced zoos where they would be better cared for. IFAW facilitated the transportation and the move of all the zoo’s animals is currently taking place on February 6th. In addition, IFAW agreed to support the process with a monetary grant as well as some computer resources to assist in the maintenance of proper record-keeping. IFAW also agreed to provide a draft to the Sudan Wildlife Authority on standards-based protocols and procedures for zoo management, including feeding and vaccination programs, hygiene measures, and proper long-term maintenance of the animals for wellbeing.
Thankfully, IFAW is able to reach places that other organizations simply cannot reach. And given the credibility of the organization and our long-standing presence in the region, we were able to drive swift change, closing down facilities that fell severely short of basic animal welfare standards. We are thankful to have had the opportunity to work with the Sudan Wildlife Authority and for their cooperation, eagerness, and transparency. Together we will continue saving the lives of these animals and monitor the situation further as it unfolds.