Guyana’s lone zoo filled with empty cages

By Davina Ramdass

Guyana’s only zoo, which is located within the Botanical Gardens that many would recall as one of the most exciting places to visit as a child has deteriorated over the years to become a habitat for birds and some reptiles.

One of the many empty cages in the zoological park

During a visit to the once “magical” destination on Saturday, Guyana Times observed that the spark was missing in the children’s eyes, as well as the excitement in their voices shouting, “Mommy look at the lion!”
Speaking of the lion, there is none at the country’s lone Zoo, Lama Avenue, Georgetown.
The cages are occupied by a few birds, exotic cats, including the Jaguar and about two others. Huge snakes, caimans, turtles and monkeys were among the few animals that could have been seen in the dull environment.
Over at the petting zoo, within the park were a few donkeys, turtles and goats along with a few disappointed children, who never even bothered to touch the animals.
As this newspaper toured the facility, visitors were complaining of the state of the zoo even as some regretted paying their monies to enter the facility.
Persons were even expressing worry over the condition of the animals, specifically the exotic cats which seemed to be sick. Persons told Guyana Times that the animals appeared to be unwell as they recall the animals were quite active a few years ago.

The condition of the manatee pond

Concerns would have been raised over the years about the limited space the animals are usually confined to, especially since in their natural habitat, they would be allowed to run about and climb and jump.
Walking into the park, one would usually first stop at the manatee pond, which was once a major attraction at the zoo.
That too has dwindled to become nothing but water covered in overgrowth, as none of the mammals could have been spotted.
On the note of marine life, one would recall the zoo having quite an exciting aquatic building with a range of fish. That building was closed during Guyana Times’ visit. It was unclear what the situation was that led to it being shut.

Upgrade coming
With the small number of animals in the zoo, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who has the responsibility for Guyana’s tourism told this newspaper that plans are in the making for a better zoological park.
According to him, the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management  Commission (GWCMC) is considering a safari type zoo.
“We would like to be able to showcase some of our wildlife but in conditions that are internationally acceptable, if that means moving the zoo to somewhere where there is more space or having a more safari type facility then so be it but I am not sure what the long-term plan is, I only know that it is being looked at and that there are regulations specifically dealing with zoological parks.”
The Minister said although the Government is considering to move the zoo, no new location has been identified to his knowledge.
The Minister would only say, “I know that there are plans to do some, well to implement some new regulations concerning the treatment of wildlife as well as how zoos or a whole set of regulations for zoos and a few other areas related to wildlife activities”.
He added, “All I know is that it is modern regulations and it is designed to really change the way we do things when it comes to the zoo. I’m not even sure whether the zoo, as it is, is going to continue or how it is going to be operated after the regulations take effect”.
The zoo officially opened its gates to the public back in 1952. Its grounds have been used as the Botanical Gardens since 1895.
The filled cages with harpy eagles and hungry lions once managed to transform a child’s face in seconds from being excited when the eagles flew around to say hello to afraid when the lions roared to ask for some food.