'Zoos no less than concentration camps': IHC CJ expresses displeasure over unimaginable pain of caged wildlife

Published December 14, 2020
One of the two Himalayan bears at Marghazar Zoo. — File photo
One of the two Himalayan bears at Marghazar Zoo. — File photo

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday compared zoos to concentration camps, adding that it was inhumane to have deprived the two bears at Marghazar Zoo of their natural habitat for the mere "entertainment of the human species".

The IHC had summoned the Ministry of Climate Change and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board after it had decided to cancel the relocation of the two bears to a sanctuary in Jordan and instead shift them to Ayub National Park in Rawalpindi.

At the previous hearing, the court had directed the board to hold a meeting before Dec 14 and inform the court of its decision.

During today's hearing, Dr Amir Khalil — a representative of Four Paws — informed the court that the bears will be taken to the sanctuary in Jordan on December 17.

In its written order, the court noted that the wildlife board has decided to relocate the bears — named Suzie and Bubloo — to a sanctuary in Jordan.

"The natural habitat of Suzie and Bubloo was the high altitude plateau of Deosai National Park in the Himalayas. It was indeed inhumane to have deprived them of living in their natural habitat merely for the entertainment of the human species.

"They have remained caged in the Marghazar zoo for more than a decade. A zoo, no matter how well equipped, is no less than a concentration camp for living beings. Both the bears were sent by the creator to live free in their natural habitats. They were born free and taking them out of their natural habitat and caging them was in violation of the natural rights bestowed upon them by the creator.

"They were imprisoned without having committed a crime. By depriving them of their natural habitat, the human species has interfered with the balance created in nature by the creator. They were subjected to unimaginable pain and suffering and there was no justification for this cruel treatment other than to entertain the human species.

"They have suffered enough and they lack the ability to let the human species know what they must have gone through. Their abnormal behaviour while imprisoned was sufficient to speak volumes for the unimaginable pain and suffering."

The court noted that Kaavan the elephant has also been relocated to a sanctuary in Cambodia.

Read: No longer 'world's loneliest elephant': Kaavan's journey from Islamabad to Cambodia in pictures

"The relocation of Kaavan the elephant, and the two Himalayan brown bears, Suzie and Bubloo, to appropriate sanctuaries has set a precedent for others to follow. They will always represent the people of Pakistan and their resolve to treat living species with respect and dignity," the court said.

The court also recognised the services of Dr Dr Amir Khalil and his organisation, Four Paws, in assisting the wildlife board and the government.

"This court wishes the two brown bears, Suzie and Bubloo, a safe journey to their temporary abode with the hope that, being magnanimous by nature, they would forgive the human race for subjecting them to unimaginable pain and suffering," the written order said.

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