Animal rights activists urge Margazar Zoo to show sympathy towards animals or close facility

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Conditions deplorable at zoo despite IHC orders

Zubair Qureshi

Animal rights activists and members of civil society on Saturday organized a protest demonstration titled “Voice for the Voiceless: A Peaceful Demonstration Against Animal Cruelty” in front of the Margazar Zoo (Islamabad Zoo) and urged the zoo administration to show some regard for the Islamabad High Court (IHC) orders and treat animals as per given instructions.Justice Athar Minallah Chief Justice of the IHC earlier this month had directed thorough probe into Islamabad zoo’s affairs and warned if someone found guilty of ill-treating animals, the court would take stern action against him.
The animal rights activists drew the attention of the zoo administration towards the court’s order and called for its strict compliance. They were holding banners, placards and charts wearing various animals’ costumes to express solidarity with caged birds, bear, monkeys and other animals who have been suffering indifference of the zoo authorities, Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) and Climate Change Ministry.
An animal rights activist and rescuer Anila Umair while talking to Pakistan Observer termed the zoo conditions utterly chaotic and pathetic.
There is no fresh water for animals, water fountains have run dry, food is substandard and below minimum standards, animal feed is not sufficient for their intake in short every department of Islamabad needs an overhaul, said Ms Anila.
While referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speeches in which he talked about animals’ rights, Anila said the prime minister should take immediate notice of the bad conditions the lone elephant Kavaan in the zoo is suffering from.
If you look at the internationally accepted food chart for an animal, you will find none of those ingredients is supplied to the poor animal. Usually elephants love to eat grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and root but in Islamabad zoo you will see only sugar cane lying before an indifferent Kavaan, she said.
In the past, there have been incidents in which Kavaan was reported damaging cages, enclosures and even these days, he can be seen constantly moving his heads that is not a good sign, she said.
One of the protestors Ali said they noticed zoo keepers taking dead chicken inside the zoo to supply to the animals. “Where in the world dead chicken is supplied to animals and how can zoo administration allow all this?” he asked.
When contacted Director of the zoo Dr Bilal said the zoo administration lacked funds for proper feed and medication of the animals, one of the protesters quoted Dr Bilal as saying. In the past, too, an NGO, Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF) had arranged a vet for the treatment of elephant as zoo had no resources.
One of the protesters on the occasion said when the honorable Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court Justice Athar Minallah himself has asked the zoo administration to send Kavaan back to Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government too has shown willingness to take the poor creature why zoo administration is persistently keeping it.
The animal rights activists also criticized Climate Change Ministry that had made tall claims of improving the overall situation once zoo’s administrative charge is given but instead of bringing any improvement they have further worsened it.
If they cannot run the zoo properly according to the internationally accepted norms they should simply close it down and turn it into a sanctuary, they said.