LAHORE: Lack of management and poor facilities have led to the death of Lahore Zoo’s latest addition – a female cheetah from South Africa.
Last week, management at Lahore zoo had imported two white lions and two cheetahs from South Africa. The female cheetah from the pair was found dead on Saturday morning in her enclosure.
This most recent death of the exotic animal has raised a fresh wave of questions against the zoo management. The tragedy comes at the heel of other animals’ losses in the zoo’s keeping during the past few months.
The zoo lost female elephant Suzi, a giraffe, lion cubs and other animals including birds just this year. It seems that the management has failed to adopt preemptive measures to avoid such incidents in the future.
Talking to Pakistan Today, World Wide Fund (WWF) Director Uzma Khan said that Lahore zoo was facing a score of management issues at the present. She said that measures need to be taken when importing animals from another country for the animal’s safety.
“When an animal is imported, it should be kept in quarantine for at least two weeks. Unfortunately, Lahore zoo does not have facilities to keep animals in quarantine,” she said.
The purpose of quarantining animals is to keep it under close surveillance and to look for signs of possible diseases. The practice also helps keep other animals safe, should the new entrant be afflicted with any contagious diseases.
Khan further said that animals suffer from stress and fatigue from travelling, which reduces their immunity. However, in Lahore zoo, animals are put straight up for public display as they are imported, which is against the recommended practice.
In response to a query, Khan said that air pollution could be a factor in the animal’s illness which led to its death.
Lamenting over the cheetah’s death, Khan said that the prevalent practice of keeping animals without proper facilities in a zoo amounted to violence on animals. “Cheetahs run very fast and by keeping them in cages their muscles become weak,” she said.
Khan highlighted that in foreign countries, cheetahs are provided with motorised equipment which are used while feeding and which help in keeping their muscles healthy. But the Lahore zoo lacks adequate space for such equipment to be installed.
Khan also said that the veterinary doctor at Lahore zoo lacked an experience of wildlife animals, while the zoo ran without designated standard operating procedures (SOPs) of feeding its inmates.
Lahore Zoo’s deputy director Tanvir Janjua claimed that the cheetah pair was kept under the recommended one-month quarantine time during which the female cheetah died. Talking to Pakistan Today he said that this was not a waste of resources as the zoo had not paid the contractor for the import of the cheetah.
He further said that the management was investigating into the reasons of the cheetah’s death and these would be disclosed later.
This was the first time that Lahore zoo had imported cheetahs worth Rs8,000,000.