Humans, the most civilized of all living beings, created by God to rule, take care of and have responsibility over the lower beings, animals. Humans are a degree higher than animals because we have intelligence, we are able to feel empathy and sympathy and we have morals. Or do we?
The Zoo of Horrors in Riyadh is proof that this statement is not always true. Read my original post on the atrocities and torture of animals that goes on at “Hadiqa Abu Jarrah” in Fantasy Land Riyadh here.
A month has passed since I wrote that post and it has been circulating on the internet and also the media, here’s a quick update:
ParisMatch featured a story titled “Zoo Shame” calling the zoo a “sinister deathtrap”. The article has been forwarded on Facebook over 3000 times.
Only one local Saudi media, Sabq.org has mentioned the zoo. They quoted the France 24 article, but failed to provide a link to the petition. How typical. My husband tried to post the link to the petition in Arabic on the comments section many times, but Sabq would not allow it to be published (among 59 published comments).
Currently 3600 people have signed the petition, my YouTube videos of the zoo have over 60,000 views and lots of people around the world have been tweeting and forwarding the petition. Bloggers Americanbedu, Miss Hijabi and Arabyja Saudyjska have also written about my article on the zoo.
Despite all this, not enough has happened to change anything at the zoo and the animals continue to dwell in misery. My friend went to the zoo last week, only to realize the status of the animals was the same, if not worse. Here’s a video clip from last Thursday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUPzeWVtHBc&feature=share
More signatures are needed, the target is 5000. And above all, SAUDIS themselves need to react. The response I am seeing from Saudis is sadly very minimal. The vast majority of the signatures are coming in from non-Saudis. Why is this?
The lack of response from many influential Saudis really bothers and angers me. Aren’t they at least ashamed of what is going on in their country? Why don’t people seem to care? What is the big deal in signing the petition, doing a retweet on twitter, forwarding the petition on Facebook or anything else that would only take a few seconds to accomplish? Why the indifference? Are animal rights seen as insignificant? What about their duty as Muslims to offer help to suffering animals?
I have heard all kinds of ridiculous excuses why not to sign or care about the zoo, like look at what’s going on in Syria, how can you not care about that? As if caring about a cause means automatically you don’t care about anything else.
Some Saudis have even commented on the various sites that the animals look fine, some even joking that the little monkey is sad because it doesn’t have a girlfriend.
What I recently found out, believe it or not, the owner Abu Jarrah has received numerous AWARDS for the excellence of his “zoo”. This is as absurd as Bashar Assaad receiving Nobel peace prize. Equally disgusting, unbelievable, inhumane and outrageous. What is happening in Syria is naturally a thousand times worse and more horrific, but that doesn’t make this less of a cause.
Just because atrocities are happening to innocent people, Muslims, children, in Syria and other countries as we speak, that does not mean we can just brush off everything else as insignificant does it? I hear people saying “this zoo is nothing compared to what is happening in Syria” and “there are much more important things to think about”. Of course! But how does that take away from the rights of these animals? How does that make for an excuse not to sign and spread the petition for example?
I find this shocking. Why don’t Saudis seem to care? How can they be so cold and unsympathetic? What is the big deal in signing the petition, what are people afraid of? There are now over 60,000 views on the YouTube videos of the zoo. Many Saudis have commented on the videos condemning them, making comments on how this is against Islam and wondering why some people don’t fear Allah, which is really great to see of course.
However, why haven’t they not also signed the petition? 95% of the signatures are coming from non-Saudis. I’ve noticed this phenomenon to be common, people just nag and complain yet do nothing but sit on their butts watching TV and complaining about Syria or alcohol found in Bebsi cola whatever else is offensive to Muslims at the current time. If it’s not Syria it’s Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, U.S, the Jews or the Shiia. People whine but take no actions. If all those whiners did something today then there could actually be change in the world.
Saudis enjoying a tour of the Zoo of Horrors.
Even though I’m on holiday in Finland, I’ve been thinking about the animals and what could be done every single day and I’ve been working on this post for two weeks now. I’ve tried to contact Saudi bloggers and journalists, to no avail. Only a few reacted. It has made me extremely sad and disappointed at the same time. I just don’t understand what the big deal is? Why not try to help? I’ve written to numerous international organizations and groups that rally for animal rights but did not get any response from there either. I contacted Abu Dhabi Wildlife Center if they would have any possibility to take the animals (if they somehow could be released form their jail) and they were shocked to hear about the zoo and the initial response was positive.
After seeing the images my friend had taken from the zoo last week I’ve had several dreams about it. In one dream I had returned to the Zoo Of Horrors: There was a new owner, strangely it was a British man. The zoo was now a mere narrow and dark corridor. I was allowed to take a tour and proceeded into the damp pathway. Only a haunting silence could be heard and the corridor was filled with a murky smell of death. The animals were like shadows in the cages, with no signs of life. The last animal in the corridor was the grizzly bear. It was now in a cage so small its skin was touching the bars and it was not able to move. The body was thin as paper, transparent and I could see through him. Only the bears big yellow eyes were moving, turning to me with a look of horror and fear in them. I woke up to the sudden scream of the bear which it had let out without even opening its mouth.
The news articles praise this “zoo” as the largest mobile zoo in the ME. In other words it’s a circus show. That is actually illegal in KSA.
BTW, did you know the word Hadiqa, as Fahad Al Shuwaiyer likes to call his dungeon, means garden in Arabic? I thought gardens are green and pleasant places? There is nothing pleasant let alone green in this place. To call it a garden is just a mockery.
Here is proof mr. Al Shuwaier has an illegal circus since 2008, when he showed off his animals at local festivals, which he proudly admits to: http://www.alriyadh.com/2008/10/02/article377822.html
Another article dating back to 2006 where it’s mentioned the zoo has an “African tiger”(anybody ever heard?) as well as a Siberian tiger, an Alaskan wolf and an Arabian Lynx among other ENDANGERED species:
In these pics from an Eid festival you can also see a tiger and two caracals. Abu Jarrah himself is posing with army officials and police all the while he is happily BREAKING THE LAW.
In the Alriyadh article the governor of Unaizah is handing out an AWARD to Mr. Alshowaiyar as recognition for the zoo. The governor is quoted saying: “The truth is that what we saw tonight is a wealth of science, I hope sincerely for the opportunity for all visitors to the festival to visit the park and take advantage of this treasure and make the most at the hands of the brother Fahad for his efforts in collecting such rare animals and also on his participation in the festival, which was deemed a distinguished addition”.
Can you believe this? Is this a bad joke? It gets even better.
Most shocking I find that someone, in fact many people would think of “Hadiqa Abu Jarrah” as something praiseworthy. Apparently many Saudis think this is quite a fine way to treat animals. Actually, it’s worth giving him an AWARD and RECOGNITION for this marvelous achievement. Just check out his award cabinet on display at the zoo:
This is Saudi-Arabia and animal rights for you.
Seeing and hearing all this makes me feel depressed and frustrated. I feel nothing will ever happen for the better for these animals. Too many people think this is OK. Not enough people are doing something.
I will leave you with a few comments to the France24 “Zoo of Horrors” article:
“What an absolute disgrace. Is Saudi Arabia a civilised country? Do Saudi’s have any feelings of any kind either for humans or animals, or are all Gods creatures treated in this same inhumane way? This zoo speaks volumes for the contempt that must be endemic in Saudi for any living creature. I can see now how Osma Bin Laden came to have the views he had on his fellow human beings.”
“Saudi Arabia may be the richest nation on earth, but it most certainly is one of the poorest nations when it comes to empathy.
Let’s hope that God will be more merciful to the Saudi’s than they are to animals.”
Wretched, Inhumane treatment at Riyadh zoo
“These photos are horrifying! They show absolute lack of knowledge of animal needs and rights and no degree of caring. What can be done? (Saudi Arabia is a country which lacks respect for women, demonstrated in many forms. Can we expect more concern for the needs, rights, and feelings of animals?)”
I think these are very thought provoking, to the point comments Indeed, if Saudis scorn and sneer at animals this way, then they are also holding God’s teachings in contempt. Where are the feelings of empathy and kindness?
What can we really expect from a country and people who view women as cattle in some circumstances?
I hope too, that God will be merciful to all the Saudis out there who don’t care about what’s allowed to happen in their country, to those who mock these animals in their suffering, and those who rather ignore than actually do something to help.
If you are not one of those Saudis, then prove to the world there are those of you who DO care and who DO live in accordance to Islamic teachings by signing and forwarding the petition NOW.
Here is the link: http://www.change.org/petitions/minister-of-wildlife-hrh-prince-bandar-and-riyadh-city-municipality-shut-down-fantasyland-zoo-relocate-and-treat-the-rescued-animals
If you still think this is not worth your time then all I can say is FEAR ALLAH.