Elephants in city zoo denied health check-up

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The Karachi zoo and Safari Park has four African elephants and animal activists across the world have raised concerns about their health.

The city government, however, does not want international experts to examine them.

Two pairs of African elephants were brought to Karachi in 2009 from Tanzania. Malaika and Sonu have been held captive at Safari Park, while Noor Jehan and Madhu Bala were moved to an enclosure at the Karachi zoo.

Earlier this year, videos of the elephants surfaced and it showed that they had broken nails, cracked tusks, swollen legs, and damaged feet.Free The Wild, a UK-based animal rights organisation, offered to help them and bring in experts for their check-up.

It has been running an online donation campaign for them. The idea was to not ask the city or Sindh governments to bear the expenses for the check-up of the four elephants.

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which runs the safari park and zoo, even gave its verbal permission.

Dr Frank Goëritz and Dr Thomas Hildebrandt, two renowned elephant specialists, were scheduled to arrive on February 23 but the city government changed its decision last minute.

“We never asked anyone for their assistance,” KMC Culture, Sports and Recreational Activities Director Manzoor Qazi told media.

“The elephants have been provided with a conducive environment and they are in good health.”

He said that the KMC is capable of taking care of the elephants. Qazi denied any knowledge of verbal permission given to the charity, adding that zoo in-charge Khalid Hashmi may know about it.

Hashmi couldn’t be contacted as he has been suspended on corruption charges.

“Words just cannot express how disappointed we are by the sudden lack of support,” said Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, co-founder of Free The Wild, in a statement. “The trip was planned and even medications purchased.

This is not only a major setback for the health of the elephants but also has wasted very valuable funds as the medications will expire and cannot be returned.”

 

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