AR-News: (ABIDJAN) Animals dying in zoo caught in conflict's middle

Animalara2003 at Animalara2003 at
Sun Jun 13 06:24:37 EDT 2004
By Pauline Bax
Associated Press

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Shivering monkeys huddle on a bare cement floor 
behind rusty bars. Elephants, whose tusks provided the name for this war-divided 
nation, struggle in thick mud. 
A safety grating covering the alligator pond is peeling back, opening a gap 
that looks wide enough for the beasts' wide jaws to pass through. 
"Imagine what could happen to a child" who got too near, says Ayekoe Yapo, 
director of the crumbling Abidjan Zoo. 
Since civil war broke out in September 2002, conditions at the zoo, one of 
West Africa's largest, have mirrored the slide of this once cocoa-rich nation 
into chaos and poverty. 
Before the fighting largely ended a year ago, more than 3,000 people were 
killed and at least a million driven from their homes. At the Abidjan Zoo, 
one-third of the animals died during the war and the rest fared little better. 
Schoolchildren once flocked to the zoo, gaping at the apes, snakes and other 
wildlife that are dwindling in the African wilderness. Few can now afford a 
trip to the zoo, which is all but empty during the week, Yapo says. Only about 
100 visitors come on the weekend -- barely enough to cover the ticket-taker's 
salary, he says.

full story:,1413,200~20954~2209277,00.html 

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