KARACHI: A zoo lioness suffering from some unknown illness for the past several months is in critical condition these days, it emerged on Saturday.

Sources said that the African big cat at the Karachi Zoo had lost half of its body weight and was currently under treatment. The emaciated lioness could barely walk, apparently due to starvation causing acute malnourishment, they added.

Her condition had also attracted concern on social media platforms after a video showed the lioness stumbling and falling on the ground in her cage.

Speaking to Dawn, Zoo Director Iqbal Nawaz dismissed fears about her condition. “It’s nothing but old age. She has completed her lifespan [in captivity] a longtime back and is more than 30 years old right now,” he said.

He added that lions lived up to 20 years in captivity.

He, however, conceded that the video was of the ailing lioness. “She seems to be in a playful mood [in the video], doing a somersault [to amuse visitors],” he claimed.

Asked about her veterinary care, Mr Nawaz said there was no special need.

“As I said, she is fine. Like humans, animals too get old and suffer health problems,” he said, rejecting concerns about the health of other animals.

The sources said the Bengal tigress, the white lioness and the female bear at the zoo also suffered from some health problems.

They said that the ailing lioness was the last surviving member of the four big cats which were “imported” on an expired permit and confiscated by the customs authorities in 2010. They were later shifted to the zoo.

The last male member of the group died in October 2022.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2024

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