Tag Archives: Karachi-Zoo

Unchaining the elephants – and the minds of our zoo managers

Guest post by Naeem Sadiq:

Karachi zoo elephant exhibit

We agreed to disagree. That may be a polite expression to describe the interview a group of ‘ele-friends’ (Rumana Husain, Mahera, Sajjad and Naeem) had with the Director of the Karachi Zoo. The more we systematically enumerated our well-rehearsed roles and arguments, the more we realised that two sides were not ‘on the same page’. Our conclusion – there is no way the elephants in our zoos could be unchained – till the minds of the Zoo Managers remained chained to the era of the ‘Company Bahadur’.

The American Association of Zoos considers solitary housing of elephants as an act of exceptional cruelty. To chain them is to multiply that cruelty a hundred times. Regrettably, those responsible for elephants in Pakistan are simply incapable of imagining any other existence for these friendly animals except chains, cells, confinement and the prison-like surroundings of a zoo.

Given as a gift (free of cost) by the Tanzanian Government, the Zoo showed the deal as ‘purchase from contractor’ at a cost of Rs.9.9 million per elephant. So while ‘Noor Jehan’ and ‘Madhubala’ brought prosperity and fortune to the Zoo management, they could not imagine that their own lives would become an unending saga of torture and agony. The zoo managers consumed millions of rupees and spent some four years to build two wretched and miserable cells (ironically called ‘rest rooms’) to house the two elephants. The cells are lined with tiles and cement to afflict extra pain and injuries, while the area of the cell is just enough to snugly fit a restrained elephant.

Elephants live with  families and freedom in their natural habitats in jungles. They enjoy long walks, plucking tree branches and taking mud baths. By housing them in narrow prison-like surroundings and keeping them chained for long hours, the Zoo management is indulging in a criminal activity, punishable under the Cruelty to Animals Act.

On a practical note, one does not foresee either a change of heart or a change of mind on the part of the officials responsible for the Zoos of Pakistan. They simply do not see anything wrong with how they treat the elephants. A society that does not show care and kindness towards its animals cannot be expected to act humane towards its citizens. Will the animal loving people of Pakistan come forward and demand that all elephants be ‘unchained’ and moved from their cells to sanctuaries. Will they raise their voice – loud enough to be heard in the heartless and mindless corridors of power.

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Shut down Karachi Zoo

According to the Born Free Foundation, “Wild animals do not belong in zoos. They belong in the wild.” The barren concrete enclosures of the Karachi zoo are a prime example of the suffering captive animals endure in captivity. Faiza Ilyas’ report in today’s DAWN newspaper quotes zoologist Abida Raees, an official of the zoo, justifying the small cemented cage of the zoo’s lone leopard:

The cage chosen for the leopard was big enough. While the leopard was in its old enclosure, it was always found in its concrete-floored retiring room. So, it didn’t matter if its cage had no other facilities in the old cage.

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Wildlife secretary backed controversial import of big cats

Faiza Ilyas in DAWN:

KARACHI, Sept 8: While the Sindh wildlife department is ‘observing’ silence over the legal status of the big cats currently housed in the zoo, correspondence between government departments over the past two months shows that the wildlife and forest secretary had also endorsed a request of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation for the import of animals brought to the city without a mandatory permit in July, sources told Dawn on Saturday.

More here.

KMC buys two lions at exorbitant price

Bhagwandas in DAWN:

KARACHI, Aug 18: The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation has purchased two white lions from a private contractor at a price around 10 times higher than the one at which he acquired the pair of big cats, it emerged on Thursday. Conservatives that Dawn spoke to felt certain that an inquiry should be instituted into what appeared to be a shady deal.

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Absence of laws gives KMC free hand in zoos affairs

Faiza Ilyas in DAWN:

These facilities currently being run by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation include the Karachi Zoological Gardens, one of the oldest zoos in the country. The absence of legislation deprives the facilities of standards on animal-keeping, a serious flaw that gave unquestionable authority to the administration and even to visitors over the rights of animals, compromising their well-being, they said. Another major obstacle in upgrading the facilities for captive animals, they pointed out, was the absence of administrative and financial autonomy and an acute shortage of trained staff at the facilities.

More here.

Do we really need zoos?

Photo Credit: Express Tribune

Back in 2009, DAWN had a wonderful editorial about the poor state of zoos in Pakistan. According to them:

WILD animals, if they are bred in captivity or made captive through some cruel stroke of fate, ought to be given sanctuary. They need to live in an environment that at least resembles their natural habitat. They can be a source of awe and wonderment for the onlooker but must never be treated as a means of amusement. Continue reading

Clean-up mission: Renovation of the Karachi zoo

Report in The Express Tribune:

KARACHI: The Karachi zoo will be cleaned and renovated after this Ashura, announced Shaukat Zaman, a health director, on Saturday. He had gone to inspect the zoo, along with the zoo’s director, Mazhar Khan, on the directives of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed.

Meeting with Karachi Administrator about Zoo Management

On Thursday, December 1, 2011, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation called a meeting with relevant stakeholders to discuss the setting up of a management committee for the Karachi Zoo to oversee its policy matters. The need for a public-private partnership was stressed in order to improve conditions for the animals at the zoo. Continue reading