Dr Mounir Abi Said
“There is no break or holiday in what I do; I can barely find a moment to relax. But I love my job and each animal in my centre has a special place in my heart.”
Mounir’s dream of creating an awareness and rehabilitation centre for wild animals started in 1993, in the backyard of his house in Aley, on the outskirts of Beirut. Since then he has cured, nurtured and released to wildlife (whenever possible) a number of animals, including hyenas, wolves, bats and bears, yes bears!
In 2003 Mounir applied for a Saïd Foundation Scholarship to broaden his experience on biodiversity management. He graduated from the University of Kent with a PhD on resolving human wildlife conflict taking stripped hyenas as a case study and, once back, he devoted himself heart and soul to conserve biodiversity in Lebanon and improve his centre.
Mounir’s Animal Encounter is no longer a small backyard garden. A few years ago, the municipality of Aley gave him a larger piece of land where he managed to build his own Noah’s Ark, including a multimedia library and a lecture hall. His centre hits more than 30.000 visitors yearly, most of whom are students from all over Lebanon. His passion does not stop here: Mounir also teaches Conservation, Ecology and Wildlife at the American University of Beirut as well as in the Lebanese University.