Zala Park

  • Overview

  • ZALA stands for Zanzibar Land Animals and it is a park where "Zanzibar's native species live in beautiful natural surroundings." It is run by a local school teacher who was tired of seeing other local people kill the local animals (sometimes endangered) out of fear or superstition. Muhammed, the Park's Ranger, started ZALA in an attempt to educate local kids but the menagerie is now on the list of most tours going through the area. Muhammed has made natural habitat homes for snakes, monitor lizards, crabs, turtles, dik-dik (tiny gazelles) and hyrax (the closest living species to the elephant – but it looks like a rabbit with no ears). Muhammed is trying to get some frogs to join his park but they have been fickle and although you can hear them around the park during the rains they have been stubborn and refuse to come out for visitors.

     

    If you show an interest in the park and the animals, Muhammed, will give you a personal tour and take you into "labs" and let you in on all his other projects (starting an aviary, frog-catching, salamander hatching, etc.). He might even let you crawl into the python area (which is caged with a kind of chicken wire) where he keeps four jumbo sized pythons. I was allowed to handle one once but since it weighed 35 kilos, I'm not sure who was handling whom. He complains that the python babies keep getting away before he can catch them but he's learning more about the animals every day. Give generously, he's doing a great thing without formal grants, and it is a time-consuming and costly endeavor. You may also think of donating any related naturalist books you might have as a way of subsidizing his library.

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