Last week, we found ourselves with some free time on our hands and so we thought we’d go ahead and take Adam to the zoo in downtown Tunis, the one in the Le Belvedere area. He seems to like animals, so we thought it’d be really good fun.
The last time I personally visited the zoo prior to last week was about 5 years ago, and it was already heart-breaking then; the images I carried on from my dear childhood memories and the magic of the place were almost all gone.
But last week was even more painful: so many cages and animal areas were empty, mostly the ones I loved most; the animals that were left looked tired, underfed and depressed; the whole place just seemed like it was stripped of the life, beauty and magic it once had; there were still children there with their families, but not as happy as we used to be, and not as many either; the place had become yet another cheap place for couples to go on their dates; in short, our national zoo is in a sorry state.
Personally, I think it’s a shame that such a historical establishment is doing so bad nowadays, not getting the proper care and funding.
I’ve already written before about the Fish Aquarium in Carthage and how it’s not doing any better.
Entrance fee is around 1/2 Dinar for adults and 300 millimes for kids. You also have to pay another 300 millimes if you want to use a camera.
These low prices show that the zoo is clearly subsidized by the government, because it wouldn’t be able to operate on such low entrance fees. It’s great of the government to take onto its shoulders such institutions, but it’s also obvious and normal that its priorities are elsewhere, and that maybe other ways should be explored to fund such cultural establishments, to keep them going and growing.
Personally, I think a diversified approach should be taken: increasing the entrance fees a bit to help really cover part of the costs; seeking sponsorships, grants, patronage or whatever other form of financial backing by wealthy culture-oriented organizations or funds; building the zoo up as an unforgettable experience and a lasting brand and maybe getting into merchandising…etc.
These are just some ideas off the top of my head, but it’s all to try and say that every possible option should be explored to save the zoo and other important cultural establishments like it that are facing similar problems.
I truly dream of a day when our Zoo is one of the greatest in the region, that future generations of Tunisians and even tourists will cherish as a dear experience and memory they’ll want to relive time and again.