LAHORE: Good news has arrived for Lahorites as the Lahore Zoo administration has completed the procedure to acquire a new elephant in April, almost one year later since the death of the zoo’s famous elephant Suzi.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Lahore Zoo Deputy Director Tanvir Ahmed Janjua said the process for acquiring the new elephant was completed on part of the administration. “We have issued the work order in this regard and the contract to procure a new elephant has been awarded to a renowned contractor. Hopefully, the zoo will get the new elephant in April,” he added.
However, he said the work order issued was valid until June 30 and the contractor would have to ensure the procurement of the animal within this time. “We have approved a budget for this scheme and will not allow it to lapse,” said Tanvir.
According to sources, the Lahore Zoo administration was repeating a mistake from the past and was procuring a single elephant instead of a pair against the recommendation of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The sources claimed that the zoo authorities did not have the required budget and space to procure a pair of the large animals.
The WAZA in 2016, outlined the rules for keeping an elephant in the accreditation standards and related policies, which stated, “Each zoo holding elephants must have a minimum of three females (or the space to accommodate three females), two males or three elephants of mixed gender.”
It has also been learnt that the Lahore Zoo administration issued a work order to buy 19 new animals of various species worth over Rs11 million and the animals are being purchased under a zoo development scheme. A female white rhinoceros, a male hippopotamus, a pair of royal brown Bengal tigers, a pair of chimpanzees, two female Asiatic wolves, a pair of red-necked lama guanacos, a pair of tortoises, three southern giraffes and a pair of striped hyenas are also in the list of the new work order issued to procure new animals.
In an earlier conversation with this scribe, Lahore Zoo Director Hassan Ali Sukhaira had claimed that he dreamt to change the map of the zoo vis-à-vis facilities for the animals and for the public. According to him, the authorities had decided to purchase one elephant keeping in mind the financial constraints.
“International practices may go against the procurement efforts, but we face our own unique circumstances and have our own budget to purchase the animals. For now, we can only afford one elephant since it is an expensive species,” he had said and told that a single elephant was worth Rs40-50 million in the international market.
It is pertinent to mention here that the only elephant in the Lahore zoo, named Suzi, had died on May 13, 2017, and the concerned authorities had tried their best to procure an elephant in the same year.
According to experts, she died due to loneliness as she had never experienced the pleasure of living with her own species during her 24 years long stay at the Lahore Zoo.
The Lahore Zoo, which was established in 1872, had attained the fame of being a well-maintained recreational spot for the general public. But the zoo now has started losing its luster after the death of several animals that were the zoo’s main attraction, including Suzi, lions, a giraffe and several birds.