Pakistan probes deaths of lions, ostriches in Islamabad zoo

A lion yawns sitting inside its cage where an air-cooler is fitted for its comfort at the zoo in Islamabad, 26 June 2005. (AFP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Pakistan probes deaths of lions, ostriches in Islamabad zoo

  • Ministry of climate change blames careless relocation of animals, shoddy management and poor feeding
  • Investigation comes as a video circulating online appears to show a fire inside a lion’s cage at the zoo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani officials on Thursday began a new probe into Islamabad’s notorious zoo, already under scrutiny over its treatment of a famous elephant, following the recent deaths of several animals including lions and ostriches.
The ministry of climate change in the Pakistani capital said it had convened a commission to investigate the deaths, which it blamed on the careless relocation of animals, shoddy management and poor feeding.
In a statement, the ministry said it was “seriously concerned” about the “intolerable and inhumane” treatment of zoo animals. 
The investigation comes as a video circulating online appeared to show a fire inside a lion’s cage at the zoo. 
AFP could not immediately confirm the veracity of the video. Anis Ur Rehman, chairman of the Islamabad wildlife management board, said two lions had died while they were being moved from Islamabad to an enclosure in Lahore.
“The lioness died in Islamabad while the lion died after reaching Lahore,” Rehman said. 
He confirmed a blaze had taken place but said “it’s not true” the lions died because of fire.
“We are waiting for the postmortem,” Rehman said.
He said the big cats had been stuck in small cages for years so efforts to move them had been highly stressful for the lions.
“Our staff has never moved animals, they have zero experience in handling the animals,” he said.
A court has ordered the eventual relocation of all the zoo’s animals while the facility is converted into a safari park, Muhammad Saleem, a spokesman at the ministry of climate change, told AFP.
The zoo garnered international headlines in May when Pakistan’s high court ordered the relocation of a lonely and mistreated Asian elephant called Kavaan whose cause had been championed by the American singer Cher.
Kavaan is slated to be moved to a sanctuary in Cambodia. He had been kept in chains and exhibited symptoms of mental illness, prompting global outrage over his treatment.


3 days of heavy monsoon rains kill 50 people across Pakistan 

Updated 11 min 51 sec ago

3 days of heavy monsoon rains kill 50 people across Pakistan 

  • Every year, many cities in Pakistan struggle to cope with the annual monsoon deluge
  • Rains also partially damaged about 100 homes and caused a breach in a main flooded canal 

KARACHI: Three days of heavy monsoon rains triggering flash floods killed at least 50 people in various parts of Pakistan, as troops with boats rushed to a flood-affected district in the country’s southern Sindh province Sunday to evacuate people to safer places. 

Every year, many cities in Pakistan struggle to cope with the annual monsoon deluge, drawing criticism about poor planning. The monsoon season runs from July through September, during which swelling rivers cause damage to crops and infrastructure.
According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, 19 people were killed in rain-related incidents in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 12 in southern Sindh province, 8 in Punjab province and 10 in the country’s scenic northern Gligit Baltistan region in the past three days.
Rains also partially damaged about 100 homes and caused a breach in a main flooded canal, inundating villages in Sindh province. In a statement, the military said troops used boats to rescue stranded people and move them to safer places. It said a medical camp was also established and food was being provided to the rescued people.
Heavy rains also lashed many districts in southwestern Baluchistan province, damaging homes. According to local media reports, at least eight people were killed in Baluchistan because of rains and flash flooding.
Heavy rainfall began last week and continued Sunday, flooding streets even in the eastern city of Lahore. It especially disrupted normal life last week in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh province, where sewage flooded most of the streets, prompting Prime Minister Imran Khan to order the army to assist authorities in handling the situation.
According to the Meteorological Department, heavy rains are expected to continue next week.
In Pakistan and neighboring India, deadly floods occur regularly during the monsoon season.