Campaign to release whale skeleton detained at Cairo Airport

Three environmental NGOs have launched a campaign demanding the release of a 37-million-year-old whale being held in Cairo Airport’s cargo village. The skeleton was returned to Egypt from the US after it underwent restoration at Michigan University for no charge.

Al-Masry Al-Youm reported yesterday that customs are asking the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) to pay LE200,000 in duties.

National Geographic’s August issue publishes the story of the whale’s discovery and information on other ancient animals who lived in Wadi el-Hitan, or the “Valley of the Whales,” in Fayoum. The publication compares the importance of the information revealed by this discovery to that written on the Rosetta stone.

Mahmoud Abdel Moneim el-Qaysooni, environmental tourism minister adviser, said two problems face the skeleton after its restoration. The first is the fact that the Egyptian Geology Museum was demolished 28 years ago to make way for the first of Cairo’s metro lines. Another museum was built in Maadi, Cairo, but is unsuitable for showcasing the whale skeleton. A new museum in Wadi el-Hitan natural reserve has been designed, but is not yet built.

The second problem el-Qaysooni referred to is museum financing: The EEAA is expected to establish the museum even though it doesn’t have the necessary resources.

According to el-Qaysouni however, a suitable museum can be built in 60 days using the environmental resources of the nature reserve, with a medium budget.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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