Scotsabroad's Weblog

February 2, 2009

Giza Zoo, You Can’t!

Filed under: Cairo,School trips — scotsabroad @ 4:13 pm


I took year 1 and year 2 to the zoo on Thursday. Built in 1831 it is one of the oldest in the world. Spread out over a large area, visiting the enclosures proved exhausting for some of our students.  When this trip was proposed parents seemed to be more apprehensive about their child’s safety, and the cleanliness of the site, rather than the welfare of the animals. Some of our parents think (perhaps correctly)  their child is a potential ‘kidnapping’ target and visiting places like Giza zoo increases this risk. Personally, I have found Cairo to be a very safe city when out and about with my boys and Egyptians  display nothing but respect, kindness, affection and concern for them.  I am not paranoid about my boys being abducted by weirdoes. However, while having responsibility for other people’s children I had to consider their concerns. I arranged for the children to be split into eight groups, with a maximum of ten children in each , escorted by two adults. Going around in small groups reduced the anxiety and would hopefully reduce our novelty value. We had not realised that Thursday was an official holiday and the zoo got very busy by midday. Some of our groups were pestered by youths, generally just curious and friendly, some wanting to use their limited english vocabulary. Telling them to leave us in peace worked well in most cases and the threat of calling the police chased the stubborn ones away. Anywhere in Cairo on a public holiday is not for the shy newcomer, says the Practical Guide to Cairo. A lot of our foreign and exotic markings, calls and plumage (and what we were being fed for lunch)  often attracted more attention than those of the animals. One of those places where if you are expecting a negative experience you will not be disappointed. The visit was arranged to enhance our unit of inquiry, Sharing The Planet!

However, the main purpose of the visit was to give the children an opportunity to see many of the animals that they have been learning to classify and research their habitat. The zoo visit was also arranged to provide a stimulus for the children’s future persuasive writing lessons. More on that later!


 I remember writing about Cairo Zoo in April last year. While the care of the animals does not perhaps reach the standard of world-class zoos, and there is a tendency for the local population to tease the animals, I think it must be one of the few zoos where you can actually enjoy feeding the animals. This could go as far as placing live baby mice into a snake’s cage. Political correctness aside, my children loved the visit and it was a worthwhile fieldtrip.  I would recommend the experience to anyone, just don’t go with eighty children on a public holiday. Was glad to get them all back to school. Shared with my class the Shel Silverstein poem, It’s Dark in Here. He writes;

I am writing these poems

From inside a lion           

And it’s rather dark in here.

So please excuse the handwriting

Which may not be too clear.        

But this afternoon by the lion’s cage

I’m afraid I got too near.   

And I’m writing these lines

From inside a lion                   

And it’s rather dark in here.


I asked my headteacher to send my year 1 class a message pretending to have reservations about our trip to the zoo. This was to provide a context for my children to respond to his email and write persuasively. I include the Head of Primary’s email, and as a measure of my children’s reaction to his message, a reply from one irate young girl in my class. Political correctness aside, it had me in tears. Young children tend to press the spacebar too many times.


From:l []
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7:27 AM
To: Andy Davidson
Subject: Letter for Year 1


Dear Year 1 D

 I understand that you are planning to go to the zoo tomorrow. Had I known about this trip earlier I would have tried to stop Mr. Davidson arranging it.  I still hope I can persuade you all not to go. I have not been to Giza Zoo but I have heard it is dirty and cruel.  You will, no doubt, pick up some horrible disease and this will cause an enormous queue of angry parents outside my door demanding an explanation. I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would enjoy seeing animals being treated so cruelly?

 Therefore I urge you all to think again or tell me your thoughts before I make a decision.

 Yours sincerely


Dear Mr.

Thank you for your email    today. We  are going to the zoo tomorroww. You have not been to the zoo. We will go to the zoo. You cunt    stop us. and it is not dirty and crul. you can not stop us from goig.

yours sincerl



  1. Andy – fantastic story about trip to the zoo and great letters to finish up with.
    So glad you got everyone back to school safely!


    Comment by linda fraser — February 2, 2009 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  2. i read the pupils reply whilst on my lunch break and I nearly chocked on my soup. Brilliant! Gold star for that pupil:)
    Hi to Davidsons. -5 here today.

    Comment by Shari — February 4, 2009 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

  3. Well done very good story “you cant” lol

    Comment by Gordon — February 5, 2009 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  4. Ditto: nearly choked on my food at reading the reply!! Fantastic.

    Hi to all.

    Comment by Alistair — February 9, 2009 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

  5. Such disrespect! where are the parents?! 😉

    Comment by Eoin — February 9, 2009 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

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