Marghazar Zoo to be replaced by virtual zoo, animals rehab centre Facilitation centre to sensitize people, youth on animals’ wellbeing

Zubair Qureshi

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is planning to establish a virtual zoo, a rehab clinic for animals and a public facilitation centre at the place of the old Marghazar Zoo which stands closed for over a year.

The CDA had sealed the city’s only facility the Marghazar Zoo that had a large number of species including monkeys, turtles, flamingoes, wolves, a few deer, ostriches, zebras and a number of fancy and traditional birds after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in December 2020 had compared it to a concentration camp.

Since then a number of proposals are under consideration of the CDA and the IWMB regarding the fate of the place that is spanning over 25 acres of land.

CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed and IWMB Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan during a visit to the closed zoo discussed various options and it was decided that a theme park, a rehabilitation clinic and virtual zoo would be set up to make people, particularly the young generation aware of various animals, their habitat and presence in Pakistan, etc.

There will also be a public facilitation centre where documentaries and high-tech movies will be screened and a virtual show would be arranged in the evening on a daily basis.

The object is to create an environment where residents of Islamabad can benefit from the site.

The visitors will be shown 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 land will also be used as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for animals.

According to a statement of the CDA, Amer Ali Ahmed, Rina S Khan Khan, architect Naeem Pasha and senior officials visited the old zoo and discussed various options for reviving the place in compliance with the Islamabad High Court order.

Marghazar Zoo was established in 1978. On average, 1 million people visited the zoo annually. In May 2020, IHC directed to shift all animals particularly the Asian elephant, Kavan from the zoo to better places like sanctuaries.

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. Despite resistance from the IWMB and different quarters, the order was carried out and the elephant was sent safely to a sanctuary in Cambodia while other animals were moved to different sanctuaries including Rawalpindi’s Ayub Park, Chakwal’s sanctuary and Four Paws bear sanctuary at Al Mawa in Jordan.


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