On November 24, a 15-year-old white lion died in a zoo in the Pakistani city of Karachi after being infected with tuberculosis. After the lion’s death, Pakistani animal rights activists said the lion died due to the negligence of zookeepers. Soon after, the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC), which runs the Karachi Zoo, dismissed its manager.
Conditions at the zoo had already attracted negative attention a week before the lion’s death, with videos of what appeared to be an unhealthy lion living in unsanitary conditions circulating on social media. The senior director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Pakistan, Rab Nawaz, said the death of the lion was apparently a case of neglect. Tell DW The sick lion had to be kept in quarantine, adding that the zoo lacked the resources, veterinarians and staff trained to care for it.
Asma Gywala, a veterinarian based in Karachi, said: DW The medical needs of the animals in the zoo were not met. She said the zoo does not receive enough funding, with 70 to 80 percent of its budget going to salaries and food. “They have to rely on donations and they can’t hire more staff, which is very important,” she said. Karachi Zoo did not respond DWRepeated requests for comment.
Karachi Zoo lacks staff, feed and veterinarians
Spread over 33 acres, Karachi Zoo is one of the largest zoos in Pakistan. However, it is understaffed. Cleaning a large animal can take more than an hour, and with hundreds at the zoo, the skeletal crew struggles to keep up.
Amjad Mahboub, the contractor that supplies the zoo with animal feed, said DW He has not received his salary since February, and has threatened to halt the zoo’s supply if payments continue to be delayed. He said the zoo had promised to pay the money this month. Despite the lack of payment, Mahboub did not stop supplying the zoo with feed, because he did not want the animals to suffer. However, he admitted that it was difficult for him to keep supplies steady.
Animal rights activists have been concerned about the safety of the animals at the Karachi Zoo for some time. Uwais Awan, an animal activist and lawyer from Islamabad, said: DW The biggest concern is the lack of veterinary examinations being performed at Karachi Zoo. During a visit earlier this year, he noticed some elephants behaving strangely. He asked zoo officials to examine the animals, but said those requests were ignored. Awan said he had to turn to the local high court, which then ordered a veterinary examination of four African elephants at the zoo, and at a nearby safari park.
Elephants at risk
The zoo insisted that a local vet be brought in for examination, but the court appointed a foreign organization. On November 28, a team of experts arrived. Among them was Frank Goeritz, lead veterinarian at the Leibniz Institute for Animal and Wildlife Research in Berlin, who made the trip on behalf of the Austrian-based animal protection organization Four Paws. Tell DW The purpose of the visit was to examine and possibly diagnose the four elephants. . said Thomas Hildebrandt, from the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Freie Universität in Berlin DW Some of the elephants examined by the team showed signs of edema on their stomachs. He said the animals needed better food and care.
After their visit to Karachi Zoo and Safari Park, the team of experts submitted a report to the Sindh High Court on November 30. He said the elephants living in the Safari Park have severe nutritional problems while the elephants in the Karachi Zoo have dental problems that require attention. Experts recommended providing better conditions and periodic examinations for the animals. However, the funding is unlikely to come from cash-strapped coffers in Pakistan, and it is unclear where zoos will find the resources to improve conditions.