The zoo in Hyderabad is spread over 58 acres, includes a part of Rani Bagh and is accessible to people of adjoining districts like Tando Mohammad Khan, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Badin and Thatta, Dadu and Jamshoro.
Refurbished at a cost of Rs150 million in 2008, it is in a state of decay. Though some new animals were bought at that time, children miss seeing the lion, elephant and bear which were there in the past.
Controlled by the defunct taluka municipal administration (TMA), Qasimabad, it remained closed for several years for renovation by the district government. Cages for monkeys are undersized leaving no space for activity. Three baby crocodiles brought earlier are now fully grown but live in a small pond.
Some cages have cemented floors sans any shelter or plantation. The entire zoo premises is exposed to sunlight with summer temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius.
Qasimabad’s TMA’s finance official, Hatim Mallah, says that TMA doesn’t receive the full allocated amount, while 85 per cent of it goes to salaries. “We receive Rs11 million monthly against the required Rs20m. For providing natural habitat to the animals, we need an additional Rs30 to Rs40m,” he says.
The Hyderabad zoo is currently headed by an engineer. As the zoo’s electric supply has been disconnected as part of the campaign against defaulters by the power utility, water is no longer available. The artificial lake is a pond of contaminated water.
Animal rights activist Anis Jillani says, “Generally people consider animals as a source of amusement and tend to harass or maltreat them.” He believes that there has to be a concerted effort for all zoos to provide a natural habitat to animals.