Scotsabroad's Weblog

April 19, 2008

Hipp, Hipp Monet

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 6:23 pm

Today we went to Giza Zoo, full of animals from all over the world, and an art gallery full of art Lesley Lababidi said, to see it’s equal, ‘one would otherwise need to buy an airline ticket to Paris or Rome.’ She was right. At the zoo we saw the usual  hippopotamus (more than one, I can’t spell the plural) baboons, tigers, bears, lions and elephants while at the gallery we could view Monet, Renior, Gauguin, Degas, Lautrec and a Van Gogh.

A zoo is controversial. You would expect Cairo’s zoo to be the number one target for those concerned with animal welfare. However, it was very popular with Egyptian families and very affordable. Lelsley Lababidi  writes, ‘ one does not know who is more in need of a clean and open environment to romp and play – the animals or the public. The zoo is the only respite for many of the poor inhabitants of the city, providing entertainment, space, shade and a bit of education.’  We had been told that the animals were not kept to a very high standard and the smell would be a problem. Apart from the conditions for the large cats we did not find it so. It must be one of the very few zoos in the world where you are encouraged to feed the animals. Indeed we entered weighted down with fruit and vegetables that we threw into many an enclosure. For the price of a few piastres keepers let us feed dates to bears, potato slices to camels, an elephant and some very smelly fish to a sealion. It was just a very enjoyable walk round and the boys thoroughly enjoyed the company of three friends from school. The only distressing part was being allowed into the cat’s enclosure (behind the scenes) where we witnessed some very distressed cats in very small and bare cells. The keepers also provoked them until we asked them to stop. One tiger had chewed it’s own tail. I can’t justify it or explain why we paid to witness these conditions. On a lighter note there was a gravity-anchored suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel and magnificent trees with a purple blossom. Cairo took loads of photographs.

After lunch we visited the Mr. and Mrs. Muhammad Mahmoud Khalil Museum. Once again we moved around a museum alone. I could have reached out and touched the thick smear of paint on Van Gogh’s Poppy Flower or rubbed Victor Hugo’s sculptured nose by Rodin. But I didn’t. The villa was once the private residence of President Sadat. Just amazing. Next to the villa was an exhibition space that had some interesting modern art on display by two artists from two different cities. One city was Cairo and one picture in particular shows a downtown microbus terminus brilliantly. Great city. Good day.



  1. Aren’t hippos weird looking?

    Comment by Wendy — April 20, 2008 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  2. Yes, especially up close as they are so hairy and they don’t actually have teeth. I would never have thought that about them.

    Comment by Shona Davidson — April 20, 2008 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  3. how cute is that hippo? I would love one of those!….Maybe the zoo could do an exchange with Jools. The Davidson’s must be the most intra travelled (new expression, just made it up, quite cool actually, but you get the gist)family in the world.

    Comment by Shari — April 22, 2008 @ 11:04 am | Reply

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