Horror Zoo Update- Saudi Contempt For Animals

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:

France 24 Observers ran a story about the zoo quoting my article, they contacted me for a quick interview and a week later I appeared on their TV show.

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 AmericanbeduMiss 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.

My friend was deeply disturbed by the zoo as well. She said some animals were missing (probably taken to another circus), the male lion was limping as can be seen on the video clip, there were new animals brought in and many people were in the zoo teasing and taunting the animals.
Shockingly, some of the cages had incense sticks burning on them right next to the animal, to mask the stench which was now much worse because of the soaring temperatures.
My friend told me how appalling it was that children had been hissing and shouting at the animals, frightening them. And what did the parents do? They LAUGHED. This is unfortunately typical behaviour here. She told me it wasn’t just Saudis, other Arab nationals and Pakistanis were there doing the exact same thing. Parents actually encourage this disrespectful, laughable behaviour and teach their kids contempt of animals.
I wish these people one day will get what is coming at them. What goes around comes around. How can any human being laugh at another souls sad fate and misery? Who is really the higher being?
Surprisingly, the owner of the zoo, Abu Jarrah, had also been present that evening. He had been walking around the amusement park with a chimpanzee dressed in a skirt. A crowd had followed like he was the emperor of Prussia parading a golden horse. Of course the crowd had just laughed at the monkey which was scared and jumping all over the place.
I also found out the real name of the owner is Fahad Alshowaiyer (also spelled Alshuwaiyer). Saudi-Arabia is apparently proud of people like Abu Jarrah. By consulting Google I found that Alriyadh and other local media have written numerous praising articles about this zoo throughout the years. It looks like the torture of these animals has been going on for many more years than I thought. 

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.

Listen to what Alshowaiyer himself has to say:
I love fishing, animals, and when I began to understand life into the advanced stages of my life, generated the desire to own animals. I have received a number of science courses in parenting and feeding and quite a few Veterinary Medicine courses. I became the caretaker myself of these animals and it generated our friendship (I bet the animals love him to death) and intimacy. This may be difficult for the average person to observe, but it is necessary to control such a large number of animals.”
Alshowaiyer pointed out that he toured many countries of the world, east and west for the collection (smuggling?) of these animals and being fluent in many languages, especially English, had facilitated the task of knowing where these animals live in their countries of origin (like the European lion?).
He had found in collaboration officials with all the support and appreciation (wasta anyone) so easy for him to bring animals here, and said honestly, I deal with these animals in all seriousness there is time to sleep and a time for food that can not be changed no matter what happens. Taking into account the safety aspect of visitors and animals alike to take an important aspect of follow-up because we are dealing with wild animals and we must be careful always( like letting your kid in the hyenas cage?). 
He concluded by emphasizing the process of expanding the park and adding other animals. He said that ‘my intention to do a similar tour in other cities in this beloved country.”
Oh dear God I don’t know what to even say to this madness. He took courses in veterinary medicine and feeding? How come his animals are sick, malnourished, fed unsuitable foods and not receiving any stimulation, protection, or any other care and facilities, not even the basics? I have so many issues with his statements I will not even begin to go there.

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:

Saudi contempt for animals and for God’s teachings

“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.

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Hello there, I'm Laura, the author of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. I've been traveling around and exploring Saudi Arabia since 2008. Connect with me on social media with the links below!
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  • Syed FasiuddinJuly 5, 2012 - 4:55 pm

    Around 10 days back after reading this i contacted WAZA(World Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums,www.waza.org) since they are affiliated to the Al Ain Zoo here,and even they had a pretty positive response
    As of 30th june,Al Ain Zoo (Thanks to WAZA)are trying to bring the Animals to Al Ain using their Saudi Contacts they have,I haven’t Contacted them back since its too early for now but i will do it in another 5 days.
    Al Ain Zoo is an excellent zoo with really good standards for Animals.you can find them here http://www.awpr.ae/en/Pages/AWPRHome.aspxReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 12:51 pm

      Syed-thank you for the support and this information, that’s wonderful news!
      Please do update me if there is any actions taken from their part.
      Unfortunately I heard Mr Alshowaiyer has lots of wasta and connections to royal family (many royals have lions etc) so it looks like almost impossible to accomplish any change, other than maybe another royal or high ranking person to react.

      The Al Ain zoo looks really nice!ReplyCancel

    • Syed FasiuddinJuly 14, 2012 - 7:48 am

      Oops,Wasta can kill this whole case :(
      Anyways i contacted WAZA,currently they are out of good news.I’ll get back to them again in another 15 days

    • LaylahAugust 1, 2012 - 4:25 pm

      Syed any updates?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 5, 2012 - 6:03 pm

    My God, this is absolutely medieval! I can understand why you’re having nightmares. Please don’t give up on these creatures, Layla. If it takes years, please keep needling at the powers that be to change this torturous situation. I’ve forwarded and posted about both the “zoo” and that poor bear, and I hope with all my heart that they will be saved. I feel sick…. Thank you for making the point that animal welfare and human welfare need not be mutually exclusive concerns. Anyone with any empathy and compassion can and will care about BOTH. Keep well and keep working on behalf of these poor animals….ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 12:54 pm

      Thank you for the encouraging comment, I will keep trying!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 5, 2012 - 6:50 pm


    I hope we can resch the target to help thoses poor creatures

    take care and becareful leïla.


  • AnonymousJuly 5, 2012 - 6:51 pm


    I hope we can reach the target to help those poor creatures

    take care and be careful Leïla.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 5, 2012 - 7:18 pm

    Your cause and comments are soooooooooooo close to my heart. I literally have sleepless nights after just seeing cats in a cage in a pet shop here in Jedda , and I totally agree with u about this issue being as important as other issues in the world. Are we putting our life on a hold be because of what is happening in Syria etc. No , people are still shopping , eating, buying three mobile phones a month, but ask them to think about the animals, they remind u of Palestine or something. May Allah have mercy on all the people in the world but at least they have voices, these animals DON’T. I have already signed the petition about the bear, please give me the link for this zoo and I will happily post it on my facbook page after signing it. Btw, I m a Saudi. One of the minority that cares.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 6, 2012 - 12:49 am

    I wish I was someone that could help. I don’t live in Saudi, and I feel you need to get signatures from actual Saudi’s.
    My 2 youngest sons volunteer at our nearby Zoo, while very modest and not alot of animals, they do treat them all very well. And my boys love giving their time there for the summer.
    I noticed your last picture on here, it’s not a Lion, it’s a mixed breed Liger. Tiger & Lion, which is illegal to interbreed two endangered species.(yes a few exist in the world but they are supposed to be two different species in the feline family, not to breed, because ones from Asia and the other from Africa) Again, just goes to show just what horrors against animals they are doing.
    No one should be comparing this to something happening in another country. This is something happening is the KSA, and if they live or are Saudi Nationals, this should disturb them. This is supposed to be the jewel of the ME. Where Muslims want to journey to at least once in their life time. But to have something like this is sad, and actually speaks volumes if they are getting rewarded for it. Just my 2 cents. DonnaReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 1:07 pm

      Hi Donna, how do you know it’s a Liger? I think it’s just a very malnourished male lion who with poor appetite looks like a shadow of a lion :( Look at how eve its mane has not grown more than that!

      This zoo makes KSA look like the SCUM of the ME.ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousJuly 31, 2012 - 6:22 pm

      Salaams, it’s a liger. You can tell because of the stripes on it’s skin and it’s got a mane and lion face so it is definitely a liger. :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahAugust 1, 2012 - 4:27 pm

      Actually those are NOT stripes but his skin rolled up because he’s so thin. you can see him on the new video walking around limping, no stripes at all.ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©July 6, 2012 - 8:07 am

    It is just repulsive… the sight of those animals in those tiny cages was painful to see. Seeing incense burning from the cages where the smoke was blowing in the faces of these animals was repulsive.. the owner being given awards for his ‘good’ work is repulsive beyond belief! Wonderful job Leyla… the owner parading around with a chimpanzee doing tricks for the people watching made my stomach turn! I hope these animals are taken away soon. The bear is I personally believe the worst condition possible… he was literally just laying there.. given up on life… ALL the animals eyes were just sad to see… I remember crying when I walked in… as for peoples comments.. no one cause is greater then another! God bless you Laylah!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 1:11 pm

      Om Lujain-thank you for the support! Burning incense next to them is so disgusting, animals have thousand times more powerful sense of smell than humans, and even I get dizzy from that smoke and smell!

      I cried there too..Were any of the people you saw in there actually feeling bad for the animals?ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©July 6, 2012 - 8:07 am

    It is just repulsive… the sight of those animals in those tiny cages was painful to see. Seeing incense burning from the cages where the smoke was blowing in the faces of these animals was repulsive.. the owner being given awards for his ‘good’ work is repulsive beyond belief! Wonderful job Leyla… the owner parading around with a chimpanzee doing tricks for the people watching made my stomach turn! I hope these animals are taken away soon. The bear is I personally believe the worst condition possible… he was literally just laying there.. given up on life… ALL the animals eyes were just sad to see… I remember crying when I walked in… as for peoples comments.. no one cause is greater then another! God bless you Laylah!ReplyCancel

  • ربة منزلJuly 6, 2012 - 11:44 pm

    Hi Laylah! Just tweeted about the petition so hopefully people all over KSA will be more aware about the situation. I hope this will speed up the change before Ramadan comes.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 1:13 pm

      Inshallah it will, thanks so much!But there are only 300 more signatures on the petition since this post..SOme Saudi names though!!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 7, 2012 - 4:24 am


    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 1:16 pm

      Morena-I share your thoughts.
      The Saudis that were there did not feel upset, they thought it was entertaining.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 7, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    laylah you said about women problems in saudi ,its nothing to do with islam ,it may be just caused due to culture mixing wtih islam ,we dont have such issues in INDIAReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 8, 2012 - 4:54 pm

    Thanks for posting this in formation. I have also signed the petitions and sent it on to others. I also think higher standards/regulations need to be implemented regarding these so called “pet shops”. They are also miserable places for animals…so sad to know this is going on here.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 1:17 pm

      thanks for signing and sharing! Oh yes don’t get me started on the pet shops..ReplyCancel

  • flawlessvelvetJuly 8, 2012 - 5:57 pm

    This is so upsetting and I feel helpless :(ReplyCancel

  • VicJuly 9, 2012 - 4:58 am

    Hi Layla, I moved to Riyadh literally last week and was considering visiting the zoo…maybe not now! I actually trained as a zoologist and these things do make me angry too. I would suggest, if you haven’t already done so, contacting PETA. They generally have a lot of sway in these situations and although sometimes I think their actions can be a little ‘extreme’ they are particularly knowledgable about the legal aspects involved. I think they might give you a lot of support and publicity. Also since i changed my facebook location to Riyadh a few days ago…I’ve had over 200 friend requests from random people- I guess setting up a facebook page with pictures wouldn’t hurt? FB is obviously pretty popular with saudis. As for getting through to the saudis….I don’t understand why to be seen as ignorant and cruel wouldn’t shame people into action? Its good to know there are people like you willing to stand up and fight these things, good luck xxReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 9, 2012 - 1:20 pm

      HI Vic and welcome to KSA :)
      I did contact PETA as well as many other international organizations but did not receive any response.

      Good idea on the FB page!

      I know what you mean, I don’t get it either! This is such a SHAME and DISGRACE that even if they didn’t give a birds crap about animals rights, you would think Saudis would act our of pure shame!
      But they don’t.ReplyCancel

    • Umm GamarJuly 10, 2012 - 1:29 am

      Salam Laylah,

      Please do not contact PETA as they are the worst organization in treatment towards animals. See here http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

    • LaylahJuly 11, 2012 - 8:38 pm

      I am familiar with those sites, however I believe in this case whatever publicity is good publicity considering that the only thing that matters is someone with power would do something.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 10, 2012 - 6:06 am

    I love your blog. I have been reading it for a while but this is my first comment.
    I agree with what you say and I understand your rage. I’m Saudi and I am always fascinated by the way most Saudi’s think and act. It seems to be that most Saudis have a huge amount of contempt for not just animals but people as well. I don’t know why. I think people still think in a “tribal way” i.e. if they don’t belong to my tribe then they are worthless to me.
    Another observation, most Saudis seem to care about a cause if the government cares about that cause i.e. Syria. As if there was no suffering anywhere else in the region, or (whisper it) in the kingdom.
    Most Saudis don’t care about the suffering of other human beings so don’t expect them to care about the well being of animals.
    I will sign the petition and I hope you can change the miserable state of life for those poor animals. Keep up the good work.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 11, 2012 - 8:31 pm

      Thank you very much for your comment, I’m really happy to read your thoughts, makes things a bit more clear :)

      Your english is excellent, would you be willing to help translate this or the other zoo article?Please pretty please :)ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousJuly 21, 2012 - 9:44 am

      I would love to help with the translation.
      I don’t always get a chance to check your blog, communicating by email would suit me best.

      You can email me at: se7ena at yahoo dot com

      Ramadan Kareem :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 10, 2012 - 8:40 am

    Appalling- disgraceful how Saudis have behaved on this! Especially the poor little monkey. So sad – cannot bear to look at that photograph.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 11, 2012 - 9:26 am

    One of the reasons why Saudis are not reacting is because it has to be in Arabic. Try to get your husband to translate what you wrote in Arabic. I promise to send the link to all my Saudi friends that I have.

    Saudis are kind people, although not necessarily great animal lovers. I am sure they will react when they see such atrocities happening.

    Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 11, 2012 - 8:33 pm

      Thanks for the advice! Any volunteers for translating the article?

      I could ask my husband but honestly he has done so much for this cause already and I know how busy he is at work, plus I know he hates writing and translating, so if anyone else could help it would be awesome!!!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousJuly 12, 2012 - 10:36 am

      I could translate it, but I think it would be better if you wrote a shorter version of the article just talking about the horrible treatment and mentioning the petition, as I know lots of good-hearted people who unfortunately don’t have time to read a long article..
      May Allah reward you for this initiative.


  • AnonymousJuly 11, 2012 - 1:03 pm


    I think these kinds of abuses happen everywhere. See an example here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2171726/Tortured-dog-tongue-hanging-mouth-ELECTRICAL-TAPE-wrapped-it.html

    Perhaps the owwer of the zoo believes that he is taking good care of the animals. He needs to be advised and educated first before making a campaign against him. Perhaps, he would have already taken action if he was sincerely advised in the best manners possible.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 11, 2012 - 8:37 pm

      Sorry but you’re wrong, they certainly don’t happen everywhere. There are no excuses to why this is happening in the “jewel” of the ME, the land of the two Holy Mosques, the birth place of Islam..come on, go to any place in the poorest most backward places in Africa and you will not see anything like this. In fact, African people respect and honor nature and wildlife and live with them in harmony.

      He says himself he is educated in animal welfare, and every Muslim knows the Hadith and what Quran says about treatment of animals. How could he still be so utterly clueless and ignorant? This campaign is to help the animals, I don’t care what happens to him.

      Stop making excuses for him!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 12, 2012 - 2:23 pm

    Oh dear, these pictures literally make me wanna cry. So sad and cruel to treat living creatures in this way. It’s wonderful that you try to change things Laylah!

    And to the Anonymous commenter above, there is no way any person who cares about animals or has any decent feelings towards these poor god’s creatures would not see the suffering of these animals and do nothing. This is cruel, sad, unbeliveable and really makes me angry. Repulsive to hear such defensive attitude towards this cruel cruel person. Shame on him!


    • LaylahJuly 15, 2012 - 12:11 pm

      Hi Aino and thanks for the comment!I’m guessing that anonymous commenter is also a Muslim, at least I’m assuming from the way they are defending the monster.ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahJuly 13, 2012 - 2:31 pm

    Sad and starving animals aside, how can a werehouse with a few cages in it get awards? This zoo sucks.

    NOW let’s get to the actual important stuff: My heart is broken becuase of the treatment of these animals. I just cant believe how harsh and cold the minds of these people are. I feel as though all compassion has left the building and all that is there is an awful and evil mindset. I have signed the petition and now I will pray. Only Allah has the power to do much in this situation. Ramadan is just around the corner. All of us should pray for these animals. Allah is more willing to accept our duas when we are fasting than any other time <3

    I hope you are rewarded for your actions, Laylah. It’s good to see someone being proactive. Keep it up.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 15, 2012 - 11:53 am

      Proud Muslimah-exactly! That’s just what it is. My guess is wasta.
      Thanks and lets hope Ramadan brings some softness to people’s hearts here!ReplyCancel

  • JennyJuly 13, 2012 - 4:26 pm

    Thanks Layla again. Clearly the owner doesn’t care nor do his customers. How long has this zoo been open to the public. How many Saudi’s protest this? Why does it take a woman from Finland to expose this…. because Saudi’s don’t care about much other than nice cars and fat watches. I have worked with 100’s of them. They don’t care about their environment, honesty, integrity… it makes me very sad.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 15, 2012 - 11:56 am

      Jenny-I’m not sure how long in this location but it does seem like he’s been showing them off for years, maybe even ten years.

      There are many Saudis that protest this (but more of those who don’t apparently)but they are afraid of taking actions.

      I don’t know why, maybe because most lack balls lol :pReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 14, 2012 - 3:19 pm

    If people were allowed to openly protest without fear of arrest in KSA, I would gladly join a group with signs to hang outside that ‘zoo of horrors’ to help raise awarness…Anyone try to contact the Arab News?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 15, 2012 - 11:58 am

      I don’t think there’s any harm in protesting against brutality against animals and violations of Islamic teachings? Isn’t that what’s happening here? Hanging out there would probably have no use, but we can reach more people online!

      I’ve tried contacting them before, will try again.ReplyCancel

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  • AnonymousJuly 16, 2012 - 4:20 am

    I’m sorry, but you said up there that, African people/places are backwards, that term is derogatory and carry negative connotations. There are other terms you could use to describe people who you think are lesser to beneath you, but not the colonial terms, in the 21st century… or may not.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 16, 2012 - 7:14 pm

      “people who you think are lesser than you” What the heck? Goodness how some people are so freakin sensitive and twisting my words to mean something totally different seems to be your favorite hobby?
      Look, I love Africa and the african people,and I’ve lived and worked there and yes I’m aware there are many countries, languages, tribes etc etc, so saying “africans” is just a broad generalization because I don’t have time to specifically address all different nations. In general it can be said that the unfortunate FACT is many of these countries are considered third world, are very poor, and many children and adults can’t afford schools, so we can say uneducated. They are not Muslim so they don’t have the guidance of Islam, Yet they are very knowledgeable about nature and wildlife and animal cruelty is unheard of. Compared to Saudi which is supposedly full of educated people, Muslims, who should have the highest standards?

      I think YOU are the one with a superiority problem since this even crossed your mind.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 22, 2012 - 3:05 pm

    Here is an article from Saudi Gazette about animal welfare in the Kingdom (http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=2009111054067). The reporter and or the two doctors may be sympathetic to this cause.

    Have you contacted this KSA-based animal welfare organization: http://www.saudipaws.com or http://www.openpaws.org?

    Finally, this type of action can work in the KSA as demonstrated in this blog: http://americanbedu.com/2010/11/24/saudi-arabia-the-lynx-has-been-saved/


    • LaylahJuly 26, 2012 - 8:59 am

      Hi Lou!
      Thanks for the links. I’m aware or the organizations but there is only so much they can do unfortunately, and Open paws is basically run by few people who are very busy helping stray cats! Yes the Lynx finally did get a new home thanks to SPESA who campaigned for it for quite some while.
      The problem is this ABu Jarrah seems to have good connections and wasta so moving the animals away from his ownership might be complex.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousAugust 8, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahAugust 8, 2012 - 3:16 pm

      I’ve deleted your comment because of your pathetic insults directed toward my husband. I don’t think it’s even worth my time to respond to your other insults and assumptions.
      Nice to finally catch your IP address and location though.
      Have a nice day in the outback!ReplyCancel

  • manavAugust 21, 2012 - 10:17 am

    interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

    تاجير السيارات السعودية

  • ASeptember 10, 2012 - 2:42 pm

    Funny and true story, Saudi Arabia was trying associate the name of their country with “Kingdom of Humanity” by placing it on all official government documents. An oxymoron of I’ve ever seen one.


  • samia khan hyderNovember 12, 2013 - 1:37 am

    A friend of mine had gone to check out the zoo after coming to know abt it from somewhere but I cld never go to see animals in distress and horrible conditions.Just seeing these pictures is so upsetting!!Remember how Lobat had helped in getting tht lynx out of tht hell hole?Maybe she cld guide us in who(and how) to approach for this?I cant blv something like this can even b praised….ppl r just so twisted!!ReplyCancel

  • IngridNovember 12, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    A new complaint has to be sent to the commission for wildlife in RIyadh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This commission is there to protect wildlife!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • anonNovember 16, 2013 - 8:05 am

    Same in tabuk, a few photos shown here:

    We have been going for two years, tried to help in various ways but it comes down to the owner wanting the animals in cage for people to look at, period. He doesn’t care about food quality, enrichment, comfort or even shelter from the elements. Its as if he thinks the animals are made of plastic. Even worse the local influential people support it and approve of it.

    Some local Saudis tried to help us but we are powerless. Even when we have reported this to the authorities nothing is done or we are told nothing can be done. When we were there there were 2 baboons, 2 Arabian wolves (that had been trapped), 3 ostriches, 1 deer (2 had already died of plastic bag ingestion), rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep, chickens, geese, cats and dogs in cages. More animals had come and gone, either died or we released them. Wildlife had been caught and died – they have no idea how to look after these animals. Since we left I heard they got 6 more monkeys, more dogs and a cheetah. Even though many of the animals kept are illegal to keep no one cares. These animals are rotting away, barely kept alive on inappropriate diets and barely enough food (the owner does not like spending money on food), never cleaned out. Its totally heartbreaking and as you mention in your article visitors laugh and poke at the animals. We left because the owner started undoing improvements we’d made and said he didn’t want to pay for food anymore, he wanted to get waste food from a local restaurant. He also wanted to get a lion…..it was pointless trying in the end, all we were doing was keeping them alive longer to suffer, its better they all just die…..

    have put it on here – https://www.facebook.com/SaudiPetShopsSpotItReportIt?fref=tsReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 26, 2013 - 2:36 pm

      Thanks for informing me about this, it’s a nationwide problem, unfortunately :(ReplyCancel

  • Melanie WatsonMay 10, 2014 - 3:14 am

    I’m so horrified that I literally cried for hours on end over this and begged God for mercy on these pitiful pitiful babies. Please let me know how I can help. I want those evil people doing this to die. There should be no mercy on anyone involved with that zoo. If they own it or work at it and sit by watching this sick mess they deserve to die. How how are they getting away with this? Does the worlds animal organizations do nothing? How is the government not forcing them to close? Can’t there be anything done? Please let me know how I can help.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 12, 2014 - 11:21 am

      Honeslty I don’t know how it’s possible, especially that the international organizations are not doing anything. The zoo was supposedly closed down (much because of my posts on it and awareness it caused) however, I recently went to fantasy land and we asked them about it, they said the same guy had opened up a zoo somewhere in that area again!! thanks for caring, maybe you can try and see if any international organizations would be able to help or do anything?ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary ShieldNovember 28, 2014 - 8:32 pm

    please stop thisReplyCancel

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