The hippo has a new home, and the penguins have given up their wandering ways. Three months after a flood devastated Tbilisi’s city zoo, killing three zookeepers and 277 animals, the facility, a beloved spot for a family outing, has reopened. But questions remain about its future.
Placards with photographs of muddy wreckage and cleanup efforts, a firm reminder of the tragic scale of the June 13 flood, lined the zoo’s entrance on its low-key re-opening day, September 13. Given the destruction that occurred, Zoo Director Zurab Gurielidze told one Georgian daily that marking the re-opening with hoopla would have been inappropriate.
In the flood’s aftermath, an escaped tiger mauled a man to death, while the use of special forces and police to shoot predators dead on the streets of Tbilisi prompted local animal-rights activists to condemn the notion of zoos altogether.
To read the full story
Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.