ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued a notice to the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary for not accommodating two bears from Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo despite a court order.
The court directed the sanctuary’s management to submit its reply by July 29. In the meantime, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) have been directed to look after the bears until they are moved to a sanctuary.
The petitioner referred to the IHC’s May 21 order and argued that the sanctuary has refused to admit the two bears. When asked by the court, the counsel said that one bear is healthy and the other in unwell.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that the court order must be implemented in all circumstances and issued the notice to the bear sanctuary, before adjourning until tomorrow (Wednesday).
Balkasar Bear Sanctuary directed to submit its reply by tomorrow
The Balkasar Bear Sanctuary, established in 2010, is an animal sanctuary in Balkasar, Chakwal. The sanctuary provides a retirement and rehabilitation home and veterinary care for rescued bears from bear-baiting events.
It houses the endangered Asian black bear and Himalayan brown bear species.
On May 21, the IHC ordered the Marghazar Zoo to move its caged animals to their respective sanctuaries. The landmark decision was welcomed by international NGOs and animal rights activists.
The IWMB recently informed the court that the zoo’s lone elephant Kaavan is being moved to a sanctuary in Cambodia, while the marsh crocodile is being relocated to a sanctuary.
American musician Cher celebrated Kaavan’s release, which she had campaigned for, and said that the court judgement was “one of the greatest moments” of her life.
The United States-based Non-Human Rights Project (NHRP) lauded the judgement and expressed the hope that it will strengthen their legal suits for the release of two solitary elephants in New York and Connecticut.
The IHC order stated: “The practice of capturing animals and keeping them in captivity is a relic of the past. It is a deplorable reflection of the treatment of living beings at the hands of other living species i.e humans. Exotic animals were collected and kept in captivity by the kings, queens and other nobility as a display of their power and might.”
“The subjugation of wild exotic animals by another living species, possessing superior faculties and attributes, had become a symbol of power and superiority,” it added.
The court had asked the chairman of the IWMB to arrange for Kaavan to be relocated to a suitable sanctuary, along with the remaining zoo animals as well.
According to the court order, a wild animal can be kept in custody to protect human life.
The court order concluded with the observation of renowned operatic tenor Robert Breault: “The only creature on earth whose natural habitat is a zoo is the zookeeper.”
Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2020
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.