LAHORE: A bird at the Lahore Zoo has been living alone (without a partner) for the last 43 years. It also happens to be the oldest one at the zoo among the animals and birds.

The secluded life of the cassowary brought to the Lahore Zoo in 1971 is mainly due to the aggressive nature of female cassowaries. The female cassowary, according to zoo officials, is not kept in captive breeding due to its aggressive nature that provokes it to attack the partner.

The natural life span of this non-flight bird is 40 years or so. It’s the third largest bird on earth after ostrich and emu. It belongs to humid rainforests of New Guinea and Northeastern Australia.

Zoo Deputy Director Mudassar Hassan told this reporter that there was a plan to celebrate the cassowary’s life and long association. “The zoo will hold a grand event in August. We shall write to various schools, wildlife enthusiasts and other guests to participate in that,” he said.

Answering a question, he said a female cassowary was far more aggressive than male one and often attacked the keeper. “A female cassowary also has extremely frivolous nature as it doesn’t like to live with same male cassowary all the time. It keeps changing the male partner. If it is compelled to live with the same cassowary, it kills the male partner,” he said.

Wildlife experts say in a jungle a male cassowary rules over a seven-kilometre territory. A female one, on the other hand, has many territories which it keeps changing while interacting with several males. A female cassowary has the reputation of suddenly leaving her male partner after laying eggs after a month’s union. The hapless male has to incubate eggs for some 50 days during which it loses a lot of weight and gets so weak that it cannot move around in search of food.

Published in Dawn, July 5th , 2014

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