KARACHI: Hundreds of mammals, birds and reptiles confined in harsh conditions of the Karachi Zoological Gardens for a long time may finally get the chance to live in an environment closer to their natural habitat after a pledge to make zoo cage-free came from the chief minister himself when he paid a visit to the facility on Wednesday.
“The plan is to make the zoo cage-free and free animals in the open environment of large enclosures, as is the practice internationally,” Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who last visited the facility over four decades ago, said while talking to journalists during the visit.
Accompanied by City Mayor Waseem Akhtar, Local Bodies Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) senior director for culture, sports and recreation Saif Abbas, zoo and safari directors Fahim Khan and Salman Shamsi, the chief minister was taken to the different sections of the facility where he saw animals housed in over a century-old concrete cages.
According to him, he received a lot of complaints against the zoo which include lack of facilities for visitors, encroachments around the garden and poor conditions in which animals have been kept in.
“I have come here to have a better understanding of these issues and take measures to improve the facility.”
Lawmaker Samar Ali Khan representing the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in the provincial assembly and architect Zain Mustafa, who led a group of architects who designed the project for an animal-friendly facility, briefed the chief minister about various aspects of the architectural plan and presented a copy of it.
The KMC’s Saif Abbas said that the chief minister had scheduled a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at CM House to discuss implementation measures for the zoo project.
“Of the Rs300m the government has allocated for the complete renovation of the zoo, Rs150m is for the purchase of new species like the giraffe, hippopotamus and the rhino, which we don’t have right now at the zoo,” he said, adding that the rest of the amount would be spent on construction.
The project, he said, would be implemented phase-wise and would cause no problem for the animals.
To another question, he said the project includes training and capacity building of the zoo staff.
It is noteworthy that the government plan has come amid long-standing concerns of animal rights activists over the appalling conditions prevailing at the facility for decades.
The facility, sources said, saw numerous animals being brought in through ‘shoddy costly deals’ but hardly anything was done to change its hostile environment that had caused injury and death to many animals.
“The zoo uplift project would fail unless the government starts hiring relevant experts to head and operate the facility. It’s high time that the government gave due attention to staff training as well,” a former zoo official said, worrying over the way the facility is run.
Courtesy: Dawn News