ISLAMABAD: Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed and Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan on Saturday visited the closed Islamabad zoo to discuss establishment of a virtual zoo at the location.
The zoo was closed in December 2020 following an order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
It was also decided that two third of the land will be used for public entertainment on which documentaries and high-tech movies will be played and a virtual show will be arranged in the evening on a daily basis.
One third of the land will be used as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for animals as earlier two rare leopard cats, which were brought from Karachi, were sent to a private clinic for treatment and then released into Margalla Hills last month.
CDA, IWMB chairpersons visit closed zoo
According to a statement of the CDA, Mr Ahmed, Ms Khan, architect Naeem Pasha and others visited the old zoo and discussed various options for reviving the place in compliance with the high court order.
Marghazar Zoo was established in 1978. On average, one million people used to visit the zoo annually. In May 2020, IHC directed to shift all animals from the zoo to sanctuaries particularly an elephant, Kavaan.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had also handed over the zoo to IWMB, saying that 878 non-human species were being held in captivity in the zoo. Because of the order, the elephant was sent to a sanctuary in Cambodia and other animals were also moved from there.
According to the statement, the IWMB chairperson briefed the participants at the IWMB site office about the future plans.
The object is to create an environment where residents of Islamabad can benefit from the site.
There is a plan to have animatronic models of animals, visual gallery and informative 3D shows for engaging the public and informing them about the wildlife and the need to preserve their freedom.
The CDA chief said the civic agency was willing to prepare a PC-I based on guidelines set by IWMB and facilitate them in setting up and reviving this place. The next meeting has been scheduled on March 11 at the CDA headquarters to discuss the concept plan.
A target date of six weeks has been set to start the construction work on the revival effort where education and information will be the focus whereas no live animals will be made captive.
Talking to Dawn, Ms Khan said it was decided that landscaping of the area will be done.
“As 25 acres are too much for the rescue and rehabilitation clinic, it has been decided to use two third of the land for public use and one third for the clinic. We will treat injured animals and release them into the wild. We have two bears but they cannot be released in the wild as one of them is deprived of ears and the second one lacks teeth,” she said.
Replying to a question, she expressed the hope that the project will complete during the current year as soon PC-I of the project will be finalised.
“As we cannot put animals on display, there will be a digital display of animals so that our children could have knowledge of them. IWMB member Imrana Tiwana is also working on it. We have been collaborating with the CDA and soon PC-I will be approved,” Ms Khan said.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2022