ISLAMABAD: A nine-year-old female lion from Marghazar Zoo died while being moved to a lion sanctuary, while a male lion is seriously ill, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) confirmed on Wednesday.
IWMB Chairman Dr Anis Rehman said the lion likely died “due to travel stress” while being relocated to Lahore. The lions were moved at night between July 26 and July 27 in cages fabricated for transportation.
The male lion is also unwell and is being looked after by veterinarians at the Mohiuddin Private Breeding Farm on Ganda Singh Road in Lahore, he said.
Dr Rehman said that the process of catching animals and shifting them into cages causes stress, which was compounded by the hot and humid weather.
The body of the female lion was taken to the General Veterinary Hospital for a postmortem examination, the results of which will be shared when received, he said. He added that lions can live for up to 12 years in captivity.
Sources in the Ministry of Climate Change said that it was ill-advised to shift animals in these two months of extreme heat and humidity, a message that had been conveyed to higher ups in the ministry.
“These are the worst months to shift animals because they are simply too stressed. We never recommend shifting animals in extreme temperatures. It’s unbearable for humans under a fan. It can only be left to one’s imagination what animals must go through,” a source in the ministry said.
A female hog deer also died while being relocated, Dr Rehman from the IWMB told Dawn. He said a male hog deer hit the female, wounding her, and she died during the journey to a sanctuary.
Ministry sources said that two ostriches have also died, along with several exotic pheasants.
The animals were being shifted to temporary sanctuaries while the Islamabad zoo is being overhauled. Since most out of its 380 inmates have been moved to other sanctuaries, the zoo now has only 30 animals including 14 rabbits and 11 monkeys, as well as 36-year-old elephant Kaavan, who have yet to be shifted.
Two weeks ago, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam had shared his vision for the zoo at a press conference, where he said he wants to transform the zoo into a facility for learning.
Dr Rehman lamented that the government has not heeded repeated requests from the zoo administration for an animal hospital on the premises.
“The vet could only look at animals when they fell sick, but could not help them or put them under anaesthesia to perform procedures to ensure better health,” Dr Rehman said.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2020