Today as the international community celebrates World Elephant Day, nobody in Karachi seems to have spared a thought for the four baby elephants in our city. We went to the Karachi Zoo to visit 10 year old Noor Jehan and Madhubala this evening.
Noor Jehan and Madhubala are the two baby elephants kept captive at Karachi Zoo. Captured from the wild in Tanzania and separated from their mothers by the late Pakistani animal trader Irfan Ahmed of Osaka Traders, they were brought to Karachi in 2009. The zoo, run by Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) claimed they were a gift from the Tanzanian government. There was much controversy reported in the newspapers on the import of the elephants even before their arrival to Pakistan. Continue reading
‘Death by negligence’ – these words are now nearly synonymous with the fates of the numerous animals unfortunate enough to call the Karachi Zoo their home.
Established in 1878 and originally called the Mahatma Ghandi Garden, it wasn’t until the independence of Pakistan, in 1947, that it was renamed the Karachi Zoo. Once the biggest attraction for people of all backgrounds in the city, to say that the zoo now is a shell of its former self would be a colossal understatement. Continue reading
Recently we, the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), received a letter from a concerned citizen about the plight of Kaavan the lone African elephant in captivity at Islamabad Zoo. Kaavan was donated to Pakistan by the Bangladesh government 28 years ago. Chained for decades on concrete by all four legs up to 24 hours a day, he is made to endure a life of solitary confinement – considered one of the worst punishments for human beings in jail. It is enough to drive any sentient being to psychosis and is something visitors to the zoo witness on any given day. Continue reading
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.
The Wednesday, December 31, DAWN has a wonderful editorial about the poor state of zoos in Pakistan. Kudos to the paper for having the courage to say it like it is: that we do not need zoos in our country, given the abysmal state of affairs in most of them. It is time we woke up and realized the extent of suffering the captive animals endure in our zoos. Continue reading