Orders authorities to install air conditioner in Rano’s enclosure within 48 hours

A brown bear, whose natural habitat is cold regions, has been kept in captivity at Karachi Zoo where it naturally feels the heat unbearable. The ordeal of the animal came to light after a video went viral on social media. The public has expressed outrage at the harsh conditions under which the poor animal has been forced to live. Feeling the heat stifling, the lonely creature roams around all day inside its enclosure looking outside through a window with the wish in its eyes to get back to its natural cold habitat and live freely with other animals. The bear is certainly not feeling comfortable and visitors to the zoo say it also looks unhealthy. They say local black bears, though different from the brown one, which are not kept in cages are healthy and show no worries. A zoo employee has also admitted that the bear is being kept in uncomfortable conditions.

Wildlife experts visiting the zoo to see the condition of the bear have criticised the zoo management for keeping the animal in highly uncomfortable conditions. The experts insist that in the first place the bear should not have been brought here because brown bears are not accustomed to live in hot weather as they are native to cold regions. At this time of the year, they say, these bears go into hibernation for five months in their natural cold habitat where in this part of the year it is freezing cold. The bear needs to be provided that kind of atmosphere: it should be kept in a dark air-conditioned room. It appears under-fed so it should be given proper and sufficient food. However, the best option is to shift the animal to a better place or to release it back into its natural habitat.

It is sad that animals are kept at zoos without considering whether the local conditions are suitable for them or not. It is no fun to keep animals cooped up.

Fortunately, in Oct 2020, a two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui and Justice Mrs Kausar Sultana, issued its written verdict over a plea against keeping a bear cub, Rano, without its mother at the Karachi Zoo. It rejected the report submitted by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) on the matter.

The bench noted that the KMC report claimed everything was in good condition but this was not the case. Animals can communicate with us despite being speechless but the zoo administration appears to be deaf and dumb, it commented.

In the written verdict, the court directed the zoo administration to set up an air conditioner or air cooler for the bear cub within 48 hours.

The bench remarked that if the orders were not complied with, the air conditioner from the office of the zoo director or another official should be removed and installed in Rano’s enclosure.

The court further expressed surprise upon learning that there was only one veterinary doctor to take care of the dozens of animals housed at the zoo. It further remarked that the veterinary doctor did not even know which species of animals he was qualified to treat.

The court issued a notice to the Sindh wildlife secretary and formed a committee comprising experts, on the suggestion of Barrister Mohsin Shehwani, the petitioner’s counsel.

It directed the committee to prepare a detailed report regarding the health and environment of the animals kept at the Karachi Zoo and submit it in court within two weeks.