ISLAMABAD: Despite repeated attempts by media to highlight the plight of animals and birds in Marghazar Zoo over the last year, the mismanagement and lack of attention from the high-ups of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) persists and results in an unhealthy environment for the animals at the zoo.
Dr Bilal Khilji is the only veterinary doctor to look after the animals at the zoo and he too has been given the charge of deputy director a few years back.
The management of more than a hundred staffers of MCI is being managed by Dr Bilal which disallows the required attention towards the daily check-up of the animals’ feed and the overall zoo environment.
In 2017, two Nilgai’s died in the zoo, which is a slightly better statistic than in 2016, when 17 animals died including a zebra, hog deer, ostrich male, zebra foal, ostrich female, wolf, lion cub male, lion cub female, flamingo male, crane male, two common peafowl male, ring-necked pheasant female, and a demoiselle crane.
It is also important to mention here that besides the aforementioned deaths of precious animals, six crocodiles have also died during quarantine period at Marghzar Zoo. From 2005 till date, more than 100 animals and birds have died at Marghzar Zoo, which presents an alarming situation, however, the authorities concerned remain aloof.
Contrary to the figures, while speaking to Pakistan Today, Dr Bilal Khijli is of the view that at present, all the animals are in good health and daily check-ups are being conducted to evaluate their health.
Sources in the MCI, however, state that due to the sub-standard food and unhygienic environment, many animals die every year and their deaths, to cover the mismanagement, is ascribed to natural causes.
Case in point is the lone elephant at the zoo, which has been living quite a dreary life ever since it’s mate died and according to sources, multiple offers to provide health treatment to the ailing elephant in Cambodia, by international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) were ignored.
Sources also state that at least Rs 45,000 is required daily for the upkeep of the zoo but due to lack of budget a meagre sum of Rs 20,000 is being currently spent. Similarly, an increase in the budget was requested by the zoo administration from the federal government however only Rs. 7.5 million was allocated for the zoo, which proved a challenge in raising the standards of the facility.
Apart from the financial constraints, there is also a need for the zoo’s rehabilitation as it was opened in 1978 and is at present, home to over 95 animals, 860 birds, and 15 reptiles.