Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tunisia zoo to close after crocodile stoned to death

TUNISIA -- A zoo in the Tunisian capital where visitors stoned a crocodile to death is to close temporarily, the local affairs and environment ministry said Friday.

It will close its gates from Monday for "emergency cleaning and maintenance works and to set up measures to manage visitors entering and exiting", the ministry said.

The public was up in arms this week after the municipality posted gory pictures of the reptile, which it said died of an internal hemorrhage after being stoned by visitors.

The images on Facebook showed the dead animal's head next to what appeared to be a bloodied paving slab and another large rock.

Environment Minister Riadh Mouakher has decided to "increase the number of guards and deploy three environmental police agents" at the zoo, the ministry said.

Tunisia aims to introduce the environmental police nationwide from April.

“It’s terrible, you cannot imagine what animals endure from some visitors,” zoo veterinarian Amor Ennaifer told Agence France-Presse.

Ennaifer said people often hurl rocks into the animals’ enclosures, frequently targeting lions and hippos. He said problems increase during school holidays.

“There are more than 150 species in the zoo. We can’t put a guard in front of each cage,” he said. “People need to be aware of the need to respect animals.”

The capital's Belvedere Zoo has been in need of maintenance for years, and social media users have called on authorities to save its scrawny lions from cramped living conditions and stone-throwing visitors.

Pictures of the zoo filled with litter last year caused an outcry on social media.

(Yahoo - March 3, 2017)

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