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The mistreatment of animals in Pakistani zoos

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The mistreatment of animals in Pakistani zoos

Hussain Saeed

While going through today’s news, we saw a story about a Lioness who died after going through a stillbirth at a zoo in Dera Ghazi Khan.

While going through the report, you see that there are no medical facilities within the local zoo to help treat the animals. This got us thinking, how do we treat the animals within our Zoos?

The Zoos do not make proper enclosures for their animals

The biggest problem with our treatment of our Zoo animals is that we haven’t been able to build proper enclosures for them. Animals, especially ones from different parts of the world, need enclosures that reflect their nature environment. Otherwise, these animals will suffer, which is what is happening right now. For example, many of the zoos in Pakistan have been called out for having unclean and not appropriate enclosure. Many of these animals are imported, yet are expected to handle local weather, which they cannot. Furthermore, their feed and water is not properly made for them, nor is it enough. Most of the animals are malnourished and dehydrated.

Zoo management don’t really know much about the animals they keep

The saddest part of all of this is that the people who are in charge of making these decisions or are put to take care of these animals do so without any actual understanding of these animals. They do not understand the behavioral needs of these animals, and as a result, are not able to cater to them. For example, when an elephant died in 2017, everyone pointed out the same thing; why was the elephant alone? You see, elephants are social animals, that live in large herds. By just keeping one elephant, you are creating an environment that will make the animal depressed-making them more susceptible to disease. And to replace the elephant, they are just getting one elephant, repeating the problem again!

Zoos lack medical facilities required for the animals

These animals are not just denied proper living, but also proper medical check ups. Suzie, one of Lahore Zoo’s most famous resident, died from medical negligence. The lioness that died in Dera Ghazi Khan died partly because there were no medical facilities on the premises. How can you have a zoo without medical facilities for the animals?

Places like the Lahore Zoo, which do have medical facilities, are filthy. According to many reports, the medical facilities that are available for the treatment of these animals unhygienic, making the animals more prone to health issues. According to reports, two giraffes died within a month of each other at the Lahore Zoo last year. Furthermore, a trio of the beasts imported from South Africa had arrived on June 25: one of the females died just four days after arrival. Another female imported in early August died on Aug 23.  All have been linked to unhygienic conditions within the medical facilities.

When researching the protocol of these places, we found that the Islamabad Zoo’s management would report an animal health emergency and wouldn’t let any immediate medical assistant but would wait for notifications and approvals from higher authorities. Meaning the animal suffers till such point that the budget is approved and the notification is passed. It is also pertinent to mention that not all vets are qualified for Wildlife, most of them are only just experienced with domestic animals and therefore cannot handle wildlife animals. 

Where is all the money going?

According to a study released this year, diseases in animals under captive conditions is a common issue which can result from unhygienic conditions of the enclosures, inappropriate diet provision, psychological stress, absence of environment enrichment techniques, injuries and many others. If all these are happening, where is the money going?

Unofficial figures suggest the Lahore Zoo fund is allocated 11 million per month funding but no one really knows the exact budget really is. According to Animals Rights Activists, the Zoo Budget is not being spent on the Animals and the façade of the Zoo is a mere corruption hub in order to fill up the pockets of the Zoo Management and all those involved. The Ostrich eggs go missing, the deer is being gifted out and almost all the animals are distressed and malnourished.

We understand that in a country like Pakistan, where money is short, that corners need to be cut. But it would be better to choose not to cut corners when it comes to life, but to stay within your limits. Don’t make animals suffer just to get some monetary benefit. Just stop treating these animals as if they do not have a right to a decent quality of life.


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