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‘Golden tabby tigers were ill when brought in’

March 22, 2013

KARACHI, March 21: The exotic pair of golden tabby tigers the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) got in an ‘exchange’ for some ‘surplus’ animals had been unwell since their arrival in the park more than a week ago, sources said on Thursday.

“The tigress had lost appetite for some time while its mate is still under treatment,” a staff member told this reporter during a visit to the park.

The tigress’s death, the sources said, had come as a shock to Safari Park officials as it had not only deprived the facility of a precious animal, but the park had also lost its valuable deer, given away in large numbers as ‘surplus animals’.

The tiger pair, they said, was shifted to the park instead of being kept for at least two weeks in quarantine, which, according to experts, was vital to prevent transmission of communicable diseases and help the animals recover.

Initial confinement of the animals to a dark, small concrete room, they said, must have worsened their condition. The staff was waiting for a formal opening of the tiger enclosure by the KMC administrator and delayed the animals’ release into their enclosure for four days.

Though DNA samples from the dead animal have been sent to a laboratory after a post-mortem examination, it is unlikely that anything substantial will emerge from it as the examination process involved only Safari Park staff.

No official was available at the park to comment as the KMC has suspended both director Salman Shamsi and additional director Dr Kazim Hussain, also serving as a veterinary surgeon, following the tigress’s death and instituted an inquiry into the matter.

KMC director-general Matanat Ali Khan and senior director for culture, sports and recreation Rehan Khan were also unavailable for comments.

It was distressing to see the tiger alone in its cage — lying listlessly in a shaded corner of its enclosure. The poor animal might have to live alone for the rest of his life as the KMC-run facilities for captive animals have no female of the same species.

Currently, the zoo has a female and two male Bengal tigers. The Bengal pair was officially meant for the Safari Park but instead of bringing them to the park, its administration decided to bring in a pair of exotic big cats through a controversial deal.

The pair was acquired from a Lahore-based ‘party’ without the mandatory permission of the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD).

The park administration had also refused to share with the media any details of what they called ‘an exchange deal’.

The Safari officials violated provincial wildlife rules again when they secretly gave a number of ‘surplus’ animals, including camels, horses and spotted deer, in an ‘exchange’.

The spotted deer are protected under wildlife rules, while verification is required from the wildlife department for transferring camel or horses to other provinces. On these violations, the SWD has recently sent a letter to the Safari Park, warning it of legal action if it does not provide details of all animals either brought in in an exchange or imported.