In July 2020, the Peshawar High Court directed the wildlife department’s secretary and chief conservator and Peshawar Zoo director to respond to a petition seeking an inquiry into the death of zoo animals in recent months. A bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar issued notices to the three respondents after holding preliminary hearing into the petition jointly filed by 24 civil society activists for the improvement of zoo conditions. The bench directed the secretary, chief conservator and zoo director to file their respective replies to the petition on the next hearing.
The petitioners also prayed the court to order the immediate shifting of the animals, which can’t stand Peshawar’s weather, to their natural habitats or suitable sanctuaries.
They also sought restriction on the keeping of such animals in the Peshawar Zoo.
The petitioners include Dr Ali Jan, Dr Adil Zareef, Jahan Mahmud Aurangzeb, Rukhsana Kuli Khan Khattak, Farzana Khan Wasim and others.
Ali Gohar Durrani, lawyer for the petitioners, requested the court to ask the authorities to make Peshawar Zoo an environmentally-friendly place by planting trees according to international standards and hire trained and experienced staff to look after the animals kept there.
He said a laboratory should be set up for the diagnosis of diseases among animals and prescription of medicines.
The lawyer said the final relief for his clients was the establishment of an animal rescue and treatment centre, which should be responsible, especially for stray animals, while vaccination and neutering of stray animals could be done to ensure that various diseases such as rabies is avoided and their population is controlled.
He said the case of his clients was based on Article 31 and preamble of the Constitution and the corresponding Islamic character of the State with verses of the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and established the claim of zoo animals not being treated well.
The lawyer referred to the judgments by various local and international forums.
He pointed out that the civil society members in the past had opposed the establishment of a zoo in Peshawar for various reasons as the government announced the selection of Qadirabad area on Palosi Road as the venue of the facility.
The lawyer, however, said the last PTI government in the province went ahead with its plans and inaugurated the zoo in Feb 2018 in a hurry simply as it had to show some mega project.
He added that ever since, dozens of animals died in the zoo, including a snow leopard, giraffes, zebra, deer and others.