From: Alice Taylor
Tirana Mayor Pledges Zoo Will Open by End of Year

Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj has announced that the Tirana Zoo will be completed by the end of 2021.

According to Veliaj, the premises, which are currently under reconstruction, will be transformed according to European standards. It will also provide recreational facilities, green spaces for picnics, playgrounds, educational facilities, and various other features.

“It will be a very pleasant surprise for the children of Tirana, but also for the region. We will end the year with one of the projects we have in mind, a project that for years the Prime Minister has been worried about- the Zoo. It’s no longer a place where foxes and wolves stand in 20 square feet, today there is a huge space for animals that meets the standard of the whole European Union.”

The project includes drying up existing lakes and creating three new ones, as well as planting various trees and shrubs. According to initial plans, there will also be cafés and restaurants, an underground car park, and administrative offices.

The winner of the tender for construction, worth some €7 million, was announced as a merger of four construction companies: Ed Konstruksion, GPG Kompani, Alba1450 Konstruksion, and VEKO. The tender was not made public and there was no public consultation at any stage.

The reconstruction of the Zoo was planned as the first phase of a project to redevelop the whole area. This included the area surrounding the Botanical Gardens, which is owned by the University of Tirana. This led to a legal dispute as the University fought to keep ownership of their resource. The University won the case, so the gardens are safe for the time being.

Since 2015, Veliaj, who is not known for his love of animals, has been publicly planning to transform the zoo and these plans have been a significant part of his election campaign.

Conditions at the Zoo had been condemned by Four Paws in 2019 who said:

“If you see the conditions here, I don’t think you need to be an expert to understand that this is not the way to keep wild animals.”