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Pakistan’s largest zoo faces permanent closure amid public outcry

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Karachi: Pakistan’s largest zoo in the port city of Karachi is facing a permanent closure after 145 years in existence due to its “very poor” living conditions for the animals, who face ill-treatment and are not being fed properly.

The Federal and Sindh governments are mulling the closure of the Karachi Zoo, the second oldest zoo in the country, after reports of the ill-treatment of several animals, particularly a 17-year-old elephant named Nur Jehan.

Earlier, the elephant was found in poor health condition. Despite undergoing successful surgery, the mammal’s health condition has deteriorated due to months of inadequate care and treatment.

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“The living conditions are very poor and the animals are clearly not well taken care of. There have been complaints of animals not being fed properly. So, the option of shutting the zoo down is under consideration but not final as yet,” a top official in the provincial government said.

He said Federal Minister and Senator Sherry Rehman and Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto had suggested closing the recreation park and the zoo.

“We are looking at moving the animals to safer places,” the official said.

The provincial government has already removed zoo Director Khalid Hashmi for his negligence and cruel behaviour towards animals, in particular Nur Jehan who is fighting for her life after falling into a concrete pond inside her small enclosure at the zoo last week.

The fall came after a team of veterinarians from a global animal welfare organisation visited the zoo and treated Nur Jehan and other animals who were sick.

Nur Jehan was one of four African elephants who were brought to Karachi in 2009. Nur Jehan and Madhubala were put in the Karachi Zoo while Malik and Sonu were taken to the Safari Park.

Numerous reports have highlighted the cruelty shown by the zookeepers and the administration of the Karachi Zoo towards the animals.

The poor living conditions of animals have raised eyebrows of the wildlife experts who are demanding that the Karachi Zoo be shut down and the animals be shifted to safer sanctuaries.

Officials at the zoo say the animals are suffering because there are no adequate funds.

“What can we do without a proper budget? The money generated is not enough to feed all the animals properly and keep the zoo neat and clean,” one official said.

Established in 1878, the Karachi Zoo was formerly known as Mahatma Gandhi Garden. It is the largest zoo in Pakistan and the second oldest zoo in the country after the Lahore Zoo.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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