Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Ameen Aslam, on Wednesday announced that eight lions and 10 tigers — a gift from the United Arab Emirates — will be sent to Pakistan next week and kept at the Lahore Zoo.
The adviser said during a press briefing that the 18 big cats are being gifted by UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Climate Change, the Lahore Zoo came to know that Al Nakhi Wildlife Centre, Dubai was in possession of more than 400 big cats and requested the UAE premier to donate a few to Pakistan.
"After correspondence with the said facility and fulfilling the legal requirements, Lahore Zoo is going to receive the gift," read the statement.
According to the ministry, the microchipped big cats were examined in detail, screened for different diseases by veterinarians in Dubai, and subsequently deemed fit for transportation to Pakistan.
A total of 18 animals — three male and one female white tigers; four male and two female Bengal tigers; and four pairs of African lions — are being sent. All the animals are aged between one to five years.
"Inbreeding is the major issue in big cats in Punjab because the animals already kept by the department have been crossbreeding with their close relatives for years. Due to deleterious effects of inbreeding there are more chances of still births, genetic disorders, low immunity and tendency to accept different diseases more easily among the captive stock of big cats of the department," the press release said, adding that with the impending induction, it will be possible to reduce chances of such issues.
"This gift of big cats will prove a corridor to exchange different species of zoo animals and birds between zoos of Pakistan and Dubai," the press release said.