There is no contention to the fact that the state pays little attention to animal abuse prevalent in the country. Videos of exotic animals, such as tigers on a joy ride in busy Karachi streets to citizens organizing dog fights are rampant on social media. But what is worse is the fact that state-owned zoos responsible to take care of animals in their custody also fail to provide for them. The recent case of a giraffe losing his life confined in the Lahore Zoo is just another brutal reminder. While the staff claimed that the animal died due to liver disease, media reports mentioned that it was the lack of facilities available to treat the infection that cost the life of the poor animal. And unfortunately, such incidents are not limited to a city. Last year, a lion in Karachi Zoo was photographed in a dismal condition, owing to a shortage of food. Prior to that the story of Kavaan the elephant had also exposed the poor conditions of zoos in the country. This then begs the question: should such establishments be even allowed to operate?
Animal rights activists have voiced their concerns over the presence of zoos for entertainment across the globe. And yet, there are no countries in the world that have banned them. However, many have expanded the scope of these establishments, turning them into sanctuaries. Pakistan has even failed to do so as the country only consists of under a dozen sanctuaries. In metropolises, it has zoos with an insignificant number of employees. For instance, the Karachi Zoo, which covers a massive 43 acres of land with about 750 animals and birds confined in 117 cages has only 14 keepers. These under-a-dozen zookeepers are responsible for feeding, cleaning and caring for the animals. To say that this is nothing less than criminal negligence wouldn’t be a tall claim.
Many of these keepers are also untrained to take care of animals. It was only two months ago when a local media publication had reported that one of the four elephants in Karachi Zoo earlier considered as a male turned out to be a female after a check-up by veterinary experts from the international group called Four Paws. Such is the state of zookeeping in this country. Activists, as well as civilians, have raised their voices against it but these concerns have only fallen on deaf ears. One wonders how many more animal lives would it take for the state to pay heed to the deteriorating condition of zoos.