LAHORE, April 28: Two young pumas have been added to the Lahore Zoo after over two decades.
The big cats from North America were transported from Karachi to the zoo on Sunday night and put in a cage for public viewing the following morning. The zoo lastly had pumas in 1986.
The zoo management committee had, two months ago, given approval for addition of a number of new animals under an exchange programme. The pumas have been brought here in exchange for a female leopard. A Karachi-based private animal supplier company called Jungle Kingdom has been instrumental in the exchange.
Lahore Zoo Director Yousaf Pal told Dawn that through the animal exchange programme millions of rupees had been saved. “The leopard will be handed over to the Karachi company only if the pumas got a clean health bill,” added Pal. He said the market price of pumas was Rs1.8 million, but zoo did not pay a penny since these animals had been added to the zoo under the exchange programme.
Wildlife experts maintain that putting the pumas on public view without carrying out their medical tests may result in outbreak of diseases here as the region of their origin had been prone to dangerous animal diseases.
Pal maintained that quarantine of the pumas had already been done by the company which had imported them. However, medical tests would be carried out here by the Veterinary Research Institute and the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences.
This specie has different names like panther, mountain lion, catamouth or cougar, depending on the region it belongs. It has the widest distribution, with a range extending from southeastern Alaska to southern Argentina and Chile. Pumas live in a variety of habitats, including desert scrub, chaparral, swamps and forests, but they avoid agricultural areas.
Puma has a powerful body with long hind legs to jump over 40 feet and a long tail which is 50-80cm long. It is the second largest cat in the Americas and is a champion jumper among the cats.
BABOONS: Zoo has also brought a trio of baboons under the exchange programme. In exchange, it will give two pairs of spotted deer and two black bucks. The zoo director said medical tests of baboons had been conducted. He said the market price of the baboon trio was over Rs1.2 million, but the zoo, in this case too, did not pay any money. He said the last baboon at zoo died four months ago after completing his natural life cycle of around 20 years.