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Egypt zoo overhaul plan raises animal welfare fears


A delighted Egyptian girl tosses a handful of fish to the hungry sea lions after her father discreetly hands a few coins to a keeper at Giza Zoo.

Nearby, visitors can also feed sweet potatoes to a camel or hay to zebra, or get keepers to prod a caged lion for a selfie.

The historic zoo was the first in the region and was once a symbol of Egypt's modernity. But its practices - which experts say are rooted in the 1950s - and its premises are badly in need of an update.

Still, a recent government announcement that its doors will be closed for a year to make improvements has been met with scepticism by the public and animal welfare groups alike.

"My kids love the zoo. We come here on weekends and holidays," says Ahmed Ibrahim, a father of four, sitting on a small rug with his family by the pelican pond.

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