KARACHI, July 16: The animal exchange programme between the Safari Park and the Karachi Zoo has once again come to an abrupt halt following the death of two red deer during their shifting to the zoo recently.

The Safari Park authorities are now reluctant to hand over more animals to the Karachi Zoo unless the latter develops and implements a proper and standardised protocol for shifting of animals.

According to sources, the animal exchange programme, which remained suspended for almost two years reportedly owing to differences between the managements of the Safari Park and the Karachi Zoo, has again run into trouble when two female red deer died two weeks back during their shifting.

Safari Park officials are also said to be annoyed over non-issuance of postmortem reports which could ascertain the cause of the animals’ death.

Safari Park District Officer Shariq Ilyas confirmed the death of two red deer and said: “We have not been issued a death certificate despite the passage of two weeks ; so it is difficult to say how the animals actually died.”

It was the responsibility of the zoo staff to ensure animal safety since they were performing the task, he said while expressing strong reservations over the method employed to shift animals.

“The zoo staff lacks training and expertise, and they have no proper facilities for this highly specialised job, ” he said, adding, “I intend not to allow any more exchanges until the Karachi Zoo develops and implements a state-of-the-art protocol.”

He, however, maintained that the black leopard at the Safari Park was the property of the zoo, and would be handed to it in a couple of days.

The leopard was rescued from the NWFP in the 2005 earthquake and was brought to the zoo from where it was shifted to the Safari Park. Zoo officials were, however, not available for comments.

According to the sources, the animals had been administered drugs and they died due to an over-dose.

The zoo had planned to get a pair of black bucks, two spotted deer and a leopard from the Safari Park in exchange for a Sika deer.

Sick animals at zoo

At present, there are only three red deer at the zoo, and one of them is being treated for an injured foot, with a female neelgai, which has wounds on the back.

The female pony that had developed some skin infection a month ago is still under treatment while a more severe case is of the lone Bactrian camel that has a diseased foot for over a year.

The sources say that the population of crows, that has increased manifold in recent years, poses a serious threat to the wellbeing of zoo animals.

“Crows are a big menace, especially for wounded animals on whose open flesh they sit and hurt them more.

“Not only do the injuries take a longer time to heal, crows are also a source of spreading infection at the zoo,” said a zoo-keeper.

Expressing dismay over the increasing number of crows, a zoo visitor said: “It is a pity to see that the zoo that has a beautiful landscape with a number of old and new trees is home to these menacing birds. Apparently, this is because the zoo surrounds an extremely busy area of the city where garbage dumps are a common sight. Something needs to be done to save birds and animals from crows.”

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