Sprucing up Baghdad

The UK Times Online has a story about an intrepid investor hoping to get rich purveying amusement to Iraqis.

Mr Werner, chairman of C3, a Los Angeles-based holding company for private equity firms, is pouring millions of dollars into developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland. “The people need this kind of positive influence. It’s going to have a huge psychological impact,” Mr Werner said.

The 50-acre (20 hectare) swath of land sits adjacent to the Green Zone and encompasses Baghdad’s existing zoo, which was looted, left without power and abandoned after the American-led invasion in 2003. Only 35 of 700 animals survived – some starved, some were stolen and some were killed by Iraqis fearing food shortages.

In the years that followed, the zoo and the surrounding al-Zawra park became an occasional target for insurgent attacks. But in recent months, families have begun to return cautiously for weekend picnics. Renovations have already begun on the zoo, with cages being repainted and new animals arriving, including ostriches, bears and a lion.

I recently read an article about the revival of the zoo in Baghdad, which I hadn’t yet gotten around to posting. It’s great news; everybody loves a zoo. My question is, though, are they going to keep the zoo open or are they going to plow it under and replace it with something concrete and electronic? It is not addressed in this article.

Mr Werner, who has been sold a 50-year lease on the site by the Mayor of Baghdad for an undisclosed sum, says that the time is ripe for the amusement park. “I think people will embrace it. They’ll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they’re Shia or Sunni.

So…just like it was before the US invasion? What with the Sunni and Shia intermarrying and going to school together and all that? When women went to school and held jobs in equal numbers to men? Just like those days?

Oh, wait, I do see down here that they refer to the project as the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, so they must be going to keep the zoo.

Half the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. These kids really need something to do,” Mr Brinkley said.

Holy moley! Is that true? I mean, I knew that most of the Middle East countries had very young populations, but 1/2 the population under 15 is really something.

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Filed under animals, arab, arabian

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