LAHORE, Aug 12: Seizing the occasion -- the World Elephant Day -- the Lahore Zoo celebrated its popular inmate Suzi’s 34th birthday on Monday.
Zoo officials told Dawn that Suzi was brought here from Africa in 1988. Her birthday cake was cut by Punjab Wildlife Department Director General Iftikhar Husain Shah.
Speaking on the occasion, Shah highlighted the importance of elephants especially the animal being endangered across the world at the hands of poachers.
He said the World Elephant Day was being celebrated all over the world for conservation and protection of elephants. The director general also fed fruit to Suzi.
Currently, only Lahore and Karachi zoos have elephants. The elephant at the Bahawalpur zoo had died some four years ago. Similarly, the Islamabad zoo had a male and a female elephant. The female died last year and the male a month ago.
Suzi has spent 25 years of her life at the Lahore Zoo. The natural life span of elephants according to Zoo Director Anwar Maan is about 50 years.
Maan told Dawn that elephant ride had been banned at the zoo for eight years.
But he denied this was a result of pressure from international wildlife organisations, saying it was because the animal was already leading an isolated life at the zoo without a companion.
However, according to a few other officials of the zoo the ride had been stopped because the elephant was not trained.
Meanwhile, during the three days of Eid, 212,000 visitors thronged the zoo. The income generated from this massive turnout was over Rs2.6 million.
Anwar Maan told Dawn that the income was more than what was earned the same time last year. The difference between the pervious year and the current year was Rs126,000, he added.
Replying to a question on the issue of parking problem faced by visitors during Eid days, Maan said the zoo had a small parking area.
That was why the parking spot inside was closed from the first day of Eid and remained closed until Monday.