Zoo lion dies of ‘natural causes’ in Karachi

Published June 9, 2021
The big cat had been in the zoo since 2017 following its rescue along with another lion from a circus being organised in the city. — AFP/File
The big cat had been in the zoo since 2017 following its rescue along with another lion from a circus being organised in the city. — AFP/File

KARACHI: A zoo lion reportedly died of ‘natural causes’ on Tuesday afternoon, sources told Dawn.

The big cat had been in the zoo since 2017 following its rescue along with another lion from a circus being organised in the city.

Upon contact, zoo officials said the 19-year-old Asiatic lion had died of a heart failure as its post-mortem examination showed high fat deposits in its coronary arteries.

“He had survived longer than its average lifespan (in the wild), which is stated to be between 16 to 18 years. At this age, animals can develop any problem just like humans,” zoo director Saif Abbas said, while appreciating the zoo staff for providing good care to animals.

About accumulation of fat in coronary arteries’ suggesting that the animal was suffering from obesity that could have been prevented, he insisted that the animal had already completed its lifespan.

Responding to a question as to how the zoo staff determined the lion’s age since the animal was confiscated from a circus, Mr Abbas claimed that this information was gathered from the circus organisers. “We were told that these lions were 16 to 17 years old. The other lion died in 2018.”

Sources said the zoo administration had been facing a lot of criticism in the media for the past many years over reports of poor animal care and lack of trained staff at the facility.

Currently, the Sindh High Court is pursuing a case in this respect.

In 2017, the wildlife authorities rescued a pair of lions and a chimpanzee kept in miserable conditions for a circus performance in the Gulshan-i-Iqbal area.

No rescue effort, however, was undertaken for the five ponies and a dog, also part of the circus troupe, as they were not wild animals. All animals were reportedly brought from Lahore to Hyderabad where they performed in a circus.

Sources said the Sindh Wildlife Protection Act 2020 bans display of wild animals for entertainment purposes and that the wildlife department is the custodian of the law.

No department, however, is assigned the responsibility to implement The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act — a pre-partition law of 1890, which provides protective cover to all animals and remains unimplemented.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021

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