LAHORE, July 18: The issues of a lack of care for the crippled and senile animals and unhygienic conditions at the Lahore Zoo have not been addressed for quite some time.
Sources told Dawn that the Punjab Wildlife Department had failed to draw up any plan to replace these animals. There’s also no effort to provide space to the animals at the Chhanga Manga Wildlife Park.
“Like human beings, animals also grow old and develop physical problems but just can’t describe their pain and suffering. They need immediate attention in the shape of separate space where they can be kept like their other old and crippled companions.
“Besides, the zoo is an exhibition house which needs to have healthy and vigorous animals,” officials say.
Another issue, they say, is loneliness and many animals are leading miserable lives because of unavailability of their companions. Eight months ago, former Punjab Wildlife Department director-general Dr Zafar Nasrullah had approved a place at the Chhanga Manga Wildlife Park for crippled and senile animals but the order was ignored after his transfer.
“Once these animals are shifted from the zoo their immediate replacement is needed because there is no concept of empty cages in any zoo of the world. At present, 15 crippled animals are at the Lahore Zoo with problems like rickets, deformed toes and legs, chronic sway back and deformed necks.
“These animals and birds include two sika deer, one red deer, one mauflon sheep fawn, one mauflon adult, one black shoulder peafowl, one common peafowl, one java green peafowl, six pigeons and one ring-necked pheasant. Animals and birds with such chronic problems do not match the quality of criteria of zoo exhibits. These animals are occupying area which can be utilised for healthy animals and should be separated from healthy ones as a better management tool,” say officials.
As far as senile animals are concerned, they also need to be replaced with fresh blood. Among these seven senile animals is Hippopotamus the natural life span of which is 35 years but the one at the Lahore Zoo has now turned almost 43.
Similarly, cassowary’s (an ostrich-like bird) natural life span is 40 to 45 years. It has turned 42. Leopard’s life span is 18 years and the one at zoo has turned 14, brown tiger’s life span is 18 and the one at zoo has turned 15, lioness’s life span is 20 and the one at zoo has turned 18, red deer’s life span is 18 and the one at zoo has turned 16 and Asiatic Wolf’s life span is 10-13 years and the one at zoo has turned 10.
The pairing of animals is another big issue at the Lahore Zoo as there are two female chimpanzees but no male one. Officials say import of a chimpanzee would cost millions and the zoo authorities are engaged in correspondence with a private zoo in Karachi for a male chimpanzee under an exchange programme.
Also needing pairing are wallaby, lama, jackal, samber, goral, sika deer and red deer.
Punjab Wildlife Department Director-General Iftikhar Hussain Shah said all these issues were of great importance and “we are trying our best to solve them.” He said as far as pairing was concerned, he had taken a few initiatives like ordering shifting of a lioness from Lahore Zoo to Safari.
“I have also directed the officials to shift a lion from Vehari to Bahawalpur for pairing.”
He said the Loi Bher Park in Rawalpindi had also bought two pairs of lions for pairing.
About crippled and senile animals, he said he would soon visit Chahnga Manga and find a place for these animals.