update 29 September 2021
We have received reports and seen newspaper articles about zoo visitors throwing objects at Kabul Zoo’s lions. This is problematic and has potential to harm the zoo animals. However, our contacts, who have long worked with Kabul Zoo to improve conditions for the resident animals, have told us that the Zoo is aware of such behaviour on the part of some visitors; the lions spend many hours a day sleeping, and visitors want to get their attention, or see them move around. The problem is not new or unique to the current situation.
Kabul has recently seen an influx of soldiers from rural areas who are unlikely to have ever seen most of the species at the Zoo. Gun-pointing and item throwing are manifestations of their excitement at seeing these animals, rather than malicious attempts to harm them. We have been reassured that there is a high fence separating the public from the lion compound, preventing large objects from passing through. The Zoo has cleared all stones from the area, and will do their best to be vigilant in the area. Some people could have been throwing other bits of litter such as dead cigarette butts, paper wrappers, or bits of bark from the trees.
Footage of people behaving inappropriately around zoo animals is always of great concern, and members of our network work directly with zoos across Asia and beyond to address such issues.
Our sources on the ground continue to assure us that for the animals at Kabul Zoo, it is business as usual and reports of malicious abuse are baseless.
update 9 September 2021
Our sources tell us that things remain calm, and not much has changed at the zoo. The animals continue to be cared for as usual.
update 31st August 2021
We have had more confirmation from our contacts on the ground that whilst the situation on the ground is unstable the zoo is still in operation. There have been Taliban soldiers at the zoo, liaising with the staff and visiting the animals. As the zoo comes under Kabul Municipality the zoo will ultimately be the responsibility of the Taliban.
Currently the animals are still being fed and cared for as normal. There was a fire near by the zoo last week but the zoo was unaffected.
Our contacts on the ground cannot confirm with certainty what the future for Kabul Zoo will be. This is an ever-changing situation and so we are in discussions with various groups to see if a contingency plan can be formulated.
We can confirm that no animals have been shot at at the zoo.
update 29th September 2021
Our contacts can confirm that the animals are still being cared for and the zoo is still in operation.
update 27th August 2021
Despite yesterday’s bombings at Kabul airport, we can confirm that the animals and staff are still unharmed and operating as usual. We will continue to update this page as we hear more.
We have received enquiries about the conditions in which the animals are housed at Kabul Zoo. There are hundreds of zoos across Asia where animals are kept in poor conditions. Many organizations are working on the ground to improve the situation for these animals, working with local staff and stakeholders to raise awareness, and offering training to the facilities. The Mayhew have a good relationship with Kabul Zoo and in the past have facilitated training for vets and carried out complex surgeries for them.
update 26th August 2021
Given that the situation in Afghanistan is unstable, there are concerns for the animals at Kabul Zoo. However, as of 26th August we can confirm that zoo staff are working as normal and the animals are safe.
The zoo is still in operation, and the staff continue to care for the animals the best they can under the circumstances. The zoo is currently not in any immediate danger.
They have supplies of food and water and are in the process of acquiring further supplies.
The photos below were taken in September 2021 and provided by The Mayhew.