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Bear at Marghazar Zoo dies due to ‘tumour’

Updated July 20, 2018

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— File photo
— File photo

ISLAMABAD: The bear at Marghazar Zoo also died a few days ago. The bear was being kept alone and in a small enclosure, with zoo officials saying he may have died due to neglect and living in a confined space.

During the last few years, 15 animals and birds have died in the zoo but the authorities have yet to improve the facility. These include nilgais, zebras, ostrich and lion cubs.

The zoo management claims these were all natural deaths.

Chief Metropolitan Officer (CMO) Syed Najaf Iqbal said that a post-mortem report says the bear died due to a tumour in its intestines.

“As far as the upgrading of the zoo is concerned, I do agree that there is need for improvement for which we have a complete plan,” he said.

15 animals, birds have died in the last few years at the zoo, which has inadequate shelter, facilities for animals

The CMO added that the federal government has earmarked Rs100 million in the fiscal year 2018-19 for upgrading the zoo.

The MCI will be given a total of Rs200 million over two years for the project, he said.

“We have forwarded the PC-1 to the concerned ministry for approval and we are hoping to receive the funds in September,” he said.

The MCI does not have any funds yet and is waiting for the release of the budget from the federal government in August-September, he said.

A zoo official said that according to the PC-1, existing facilities will be upgraded and new enclosures will be made as well as walkways and an animal hospital.

A new administration block will also be set up.

Spread over 25 acres at the foot of the Margalla Hills, the zoo lacks adequate shelter for its inmates.

A pair of lions, which are the main attraction at the zoo, are being kept apart to keep them from mating while Kavaan, the lone elephant, has been living alone since his partner Saheli died in 2012.

His living quarters are also small and inadequate for such a large animal.

He only has a three-walled structure to take shelter under in the harsh summer months.

“The conditions under which the lions and elephant are being kept are deplorable. We are visiting the zoo for the first time and are very disappointed,” said Rafique Butt, who was visiting with his family from Sialkot.

Public facilities in Islamabad should be a model for the provinces, he said.

Many of the enclosures at the zoo are dirty and the water in the ponds for ducks and turtles is grimy. The pond for the pelicans is empty because the staff do not refill it.

The zoo has only one veterinary doctor who is also a deputy director and focuses more on that job.

Before the formation of the local government, the zoo was under the administrative control of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and now falls under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI).

However, much like the CDA, the MCI is also yet to make any changes in the zoo despite making several such announcements in the first few months of its formation.

Meanwhile, commercial activities have been increased in the zoo, with many new stalls set up recently after the formation of the local government. Some zoo officials say a general councillor is behind the establishment of the new stalls.

The zoo employs some 120 people many of whom do not take an interest in their duties due to labour union engagements. Some officials also claim that many of these employees have also set up stalls at the facility.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2018