LAHORE: Though Lahore Zoo tops the lists of important recreational places in the city, a dearth of various recreational facilities has irked visitors at the zoological garden.
Established in 1872, Lahore’s zoological garden once used to enjoy the unofficial status of one of the well-maintained recreational spots for the general public when compared to other zoological parks. Today, the picture looks different.
Empty enclosures and foul smell welcome visitors in the zoo and inflated prices of eatables and substandard food at the canteen further add to their miseries. The visitors are seen littering the area with wrappers instead of using dustbins, as there is no one in the garden to ensure cleanliness on the premises.
A zoo is defined as a permanent place where wild species are kept for exhibition to the public and is bound to provide food and water, a suitable environment, healthcare, and an opportunity to express most normal behaviour and protection from fear and distress to inhabitant animals and birds.
However, a zoo keeper blamed lack of interest on the part of the top zoo administration and also alleged that the lower staff is negligent in taking care of the birds and animals, which according to him are not being fed standard food and kept in a safe environment.
He further alleged that the animal keepers usually delay the provision of food to them which causes various health related problems to them.
In a survey, many visitors complained about empty cages, insufficient number of public toilets, faulty water coolers and absence of other civic facilities in the zoo in which about 5,000 people come daily along with their families and children.
Malik Aslam, a visitor who had come with his three children, expressed his annoyance over the lack of facilities in the zoo. “A number of the cages in the zoo are without animals. How can a zoo be complete without an elephant which has not been there for months? There is no water facility in the zoo as well”, he said.
Another visitor Rafi Ullah said that the zoo looks barren now. “Many empty cages and the absence of an elephant has made the zoo look deserted. The government should bring more animals here as it earns millions of rupees from the zoo.”
The visitors also complained against canteen owners who were charging more rates than displayed on the list. “The rates at the canteen are high. There is a need to review them,” visitor Malik Ahad said.
Zoo Director Hassan Ali Sukhera said that he is trying his best to improve the situation in the zoo. “The visitors of Lahore Zoo will see a big difference in 2018 Insha Allah, (God willing). I will change the map of zoo as it is the number one priority,” he vowed. He further said that bidding of tenders for animals has started and soon the zoo will have many new animals.