BOSTON — Unfortunately, when it comes to the worst zoos in the world, the stories are pretty much all the same: small cages and living spaces, unnatural surroundings of concrete and iron, under-feeding and under-watering and well, cruelty in general.
However, some zoos go above and beyond expectations of horrible.
Ever hear of a zoo misplacing a few animals? How about one that slowly turns into a taxidermy museum? Animals being shipped two-by-two on a "Noah's Ark" to a different country?
The zoos listed here are places you don't want to bring the kids. Or yourself for that matter.
Giza Zoo — Egypt
Glkand Zoo — Iraqi Kurdistan
A brown bear in her enclosure at the Glkand Zoo, Iraq. (Tracey Shelton/GlobalPost)
Not only does the Glkand Zoo in Iraq have the usual zoo problems of too-small living spaces and general cruelty towards animals, it also seems to be a location of illegal animal smuggling. An increasing trend among the Iraqi wealthy is to acquire a private zoo with the most exotic animals possible, and the Glkand Zoo is a transaction point for some of these exchanges. The zoo owner openly says that he smuggles some animals for private zoos, like birds and monkeys, but denies that he does so with more dangerous animals, like lions. Although, there seems to be proof to the contrary.
Mumbai Zoo — India
A rhinoceros inside his enclosure at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan city zoo in Mumbai, May 1, 2008. (Indranil Mukherjee/Getty Images)
The only zoo in Mumbai is taking an interesting approach to keeping diversity among its animals. Unable to replace animals as they die because the existing enclosures don’t conform to anti-cruelty guidelines, the zoo has decided to stuff the animals and put them up on display in a taxidermy museum instead.
Kiev Zoo — Ukraine
People hold posters of animals that died in Kiev Zoo recently during a protest in front of Kiev city administration on April 30, 2010. (Genya Savilov/Getty Images)
In 2008, 51 animals died in the Kiev Zoo and in recent months, they lost a 39-year-old elephant, a white camel and a bison. Two sick yaks were saved by veterinarians. Zoo authorities blame a mysterious middle-aged man for poisoning the animals, while critics point at substandard living conditions and negligent handling by unqualified zoo administration.
San Antonio Zoo — Texas
An elephant playing in the sand Nov. 23, 2002 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The San Antonio Zoo was rated number one in the 2009 list of the 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants compiled by In Defense of Animals — a title they’ve had for the second year straight. For two years the unfortunate elephant named Lucky was kept in solitary confinement in an area too small for her. And then the zoo decided to add another elephant to the tiny space to create a “herd.”
Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo — China
A feeder feeds a Siberian tiger cub at Erdaohe Tiger Park on July 2, 2006 in Yanbian Chaoxian Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)
Over the course of three months, 11 rare Siberian tigers died in this now closed zoo in northeastern China. A manager at the zoo said the tigers died of various diseases, but local authorities and wildlife officials believe they died from malnutrition. The tigers were apparently fed cheap chicken bones as food and were kept in very small cages. China has only about 50 tigers left in the wild, but there are about 5,000 kept in captivity.
Oradea Zoo — Romania
Romanian zoo employees remove a sedated lion from a cage in Oradea Zoo on Feb. 10, 2010. (Aranyics Orsolya/Getty Images)
A pride of 13 lions was saved from the Oradea Zoo where they were living in small concrete enclosures, including a 15 foot-by-12 foot cage that was home to four adult lions. The zoo could no longer afford to keep them and they were due to be put down if a new home couldn’t be found. Luckily the Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s animal director visited the zoo and was moved to raise the money to relocate them to the United Kingdom.
Dhaka Zoo — Bangladesh
A kangaroo is seen in an enclosure in the zoo in Dhaka on Sept. 15, 2009. (Munir Uz Zaman/Getty Images)
In 2009, the Dhaka Zoo in Bangladesh lost massive numbers of animals. As many as 21 rare animals died in one year and after the death of a giraffe in September 2009, the zoo curator and deputy curator were temporarily suspended and an investigation of the animals’ deaths began. The zoo has more than 2,000 animals and some 150 species.
A wolf sits in a cage after it arrived from Pyongyang Central Zoo in North Korea at South Korea's border village Paju on April 14, 2005. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Luckily Robert Mugabe’s "Noah’s Ark" of animals from Zimbabwe seems to have been stalled due to a storm of outrage by conservationists about the horrible zoo conditions in North Korea. This plan was reminiscent of the time when Mugabe sent two rhinos to North Korea in the 1980s, only for them to die a few months after being relocated. Wildlife experts said that it was unlikely that the animals, particularly the two baby elephants, would have survived the 7,000-mile flight, not to mention North Korea’s cold temperatures and poor living conditions.
Compiled by Jackie Leavitt.
Editor's note: This story has been modified from its original version.