Baghdad Zoo has probably never been at the forefront of innovation in animal husbandry and exhibitry, but after enduring continuous destruction from war over the last few years, its been decimated. The zoo’s collection has depleted to just under 800 specimens of mostly birds.
Recently, in an act of good will, the U.S. has endeavored to send the Zoo a pair adolescent tiger siblings from a sanctuary in North Carolina. The act is controversial for many reasons, but, from our point of view, mostly because of the lack of modern (ethically) designed habitat for the tigers.
On the flip side, the move brings a positive light to the zoo, which has already increased the visitor attendance. An increased attendance will, eventually, lead to capital projects which will hopefully include a new tiger exhibit.
For the time being, the cubs are provided with all of the basic elements standard in exhibits: natural substrate, a medium sized pool, enrichment devices and shade from the sun. That’s a start. And, if you consider the environment from which they came, being that sanctuaries rarely spend money on the aesthetic design of an animal habitat, the new home is probably not much different for them.
Hopefully, the heightened Zoo security will keep the tigers safe from harm. Safety is the real issue here. Aesthetics will provide a much more comfortable home for the tigers, giving them more places of reprieve from being on exhibit, as well as providing more complex spaces for play. However, the main reason we provide aesthetically pleasing exhibits is for the guest. In this case, the guests, I assume, are happy to just have a functioning zoo at all.
Take a look at a video of the cubs in their new home, here.