File Photo: Youths standing outside the Giza zoo's gate. Photo courtesy of Trip.com website.
The announcement was made by Maged El-Serty, the CEO of the National Military Production Company for Projects, Engineering Consultations and General Supplies (under the Ministry of Military Production), which will be partly responsible for the renovation, in an interview with TV news anchor Lamees El-Hadidi on Saturday.
El-Serty asserted that the government aims to return the Giza Zoo to its former glory after years of neglect resulted in it being kicked out of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2004.
The Giza Zoo is the third oldest in the world, and the oldest in Africa. It was built by Khedive Ismail (1830-1895), the ruler of Egypt at the time, and opened in 1891.
The renovation will last a maximum of 18 months, after which the facility will be an open-range space with no cages, he added, stressing that it will be highly secured with pre-set paths for visitors.
The zoo will close for around a year during the renovation, which is set to begin January 2023, he clarified.
Not a single tree will be cut down, asserted El-Serty, adding that existing merchants and other attractions will be kept, but will be moved about without interfering with the structure of the Zoo.
The nearby El-Orman botanical garden, also built by Khedive Ismail, is also set for renovation and development concurrently with the zoo, including a gondola lift connecting the two attractions.
The renovation will take place under the established usufruct between the National Military Production Company and the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.
El-Serty explained that the usufruct gives the company the right to use and profit from the zoo for 25 years.
The Ministry of Agriculture will remain a pivotal player throughout the agreement and shall receive financial compensation for the usufruct, El-Serty confirmed. The company will also be working with the national General Organisation for Veterinary Services, Abnaa Sinai, and Hadaik.
The project will rely on foreign advisement from Bernard Harrison and Friends Limited Liability Company due to their expertise in designing the London Zoo and Singapore Zoo. Additionally, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums expertise will be responsible for restructuring the facility, he added.
The current ticket price of the zoo stands at EGP 5 for Egyptians and EGP 20 for foreigners, with the exception of Tuesday when tickets cost EGP 65 as the zoo is only open to private school and tourism companies.
After the renovation, prices will be set to reflect the improvements, but will remain accessible to all, El-Serty said.