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Two pumas arrive at zoo

June 13, 2012

KARACHI, June 13: A pair of young pumas on Wednesday morning arrived at the Karachi Zoological Gardens from where they will be shifted to the Safari Park after the construction of their enclosure there.

The big cats have been bought at a cost of Rs2.75 million through a local contractor.

Currently there is no big cat at the Safari Park whereas the zoo has two male Bengal tigers, a male lion and a female leopard in addition to the two pairs of lions that are officially not owned by the government as a case regarding their import is reportedly pending in a court.

Bashir Saddozai, who has recently taken the charge of the Safari Park after being relieved of his responsibilities as zoo director, confirmed to Dawn that the pair had been bought at a cost of Rs2.75 million and preparations were under way to shift them to the Safari Park. “The animals, which are about four to five years old, have been arranged locally.

“We are planning to induct pairs of lions, tigers and hippos by the end of this month or the beginning of next month. These additions would help us get the Safari Park internationally recognised,” he said.

He added that all the new animals would be first shifted to the zoo and then to the Safari Park once their enclosures were ready.

In reply to a question about the animals’ inspection before their arrival at the zoo, he said that no vet inspected the big cats at the farm where they had been kept, but insisted that the supplier was responsible for any problem relating to animals’ health for the initial 15 days.

Jawaid Khan, commercial animal importer who supplied the pumas pair, told Dawn that he had imported the pumas about four years ago from Canada after completing all the paperwork required for the purpose.

“At that time, they were hardly nine weeks old. They have been hand-raised at a farm on the superhighway. The female is as friendly as a domestic cat, though right now she would be restless along with its mate as they are at a new place,” he explained.

He expressed satisfaction over the size of the enclosure provided to the animals. “It’s spacious with a proper resting area and a section where they can feel the earth,” he said.

“They both eat up to eight kilos of meat every day. It would be good if they are provided food in the evening as this is the time they are active. The meat offered after dusk when the weather is usually cool won’t get spoiled early. I have provided all information [to the zoo staff] about their vaccination, too,” he said while stressing the need for zoo keepers’ education and training.

According to Mr Khan, over five months back, the pair had given birth to two cubs which had been sold to an individual based in Lahore. He also said that he had provided a pair of the same species to the zoo more than five years ago, but the species no longer exists at the facility.

Commenting on the induction of pumas in the zoo, Saeed Baloch, who heads the Sindh wildlife department, said that he would check the status of the importer and the company involved in the deal.

According to zoo director and senior vet Dr Kazim Hussain, the puma is listed as an endangered species in the IUCN red list.

International trade, however, is allowed for the species raised in captivity.

Last chick dies

The lone ostrich chick left at the zoo after the death of one last Thursday also died reportedly on Sunday evening.

“No specific infection could be detected in a post-mortem examination of the chick though it was anaemic,” said Dr Hussain.

He added that the baby had gone weak and inactive after the other chick died of a lung infection last week.

Only two eggs were hatched out of the 10 laid by an ostrich hen over a month ago.