A rare white lion died in Karachi Zoo on Nov 24, 2021 after its lungs stopped working due to pneumonia, a spokesperson for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) claimed. He said that the big cat was ill for the last 13 days and suffering from Pulmonary TB which was being treated by veterinarians but “he could not recover and died due to his illness.”
A team of veterinarians performed an autopsy on the lion and collected details about the illness and death. According to veterinarians, the lion also had pneumonia and its lungs had stopped working.
Administrator Karachi Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that he was saddened to learn of the death of the white lion as they are rare in the world. “Strict disciplinary action will be taken against the zoo management if any negligence is found after the cause of death of the lion has come to light,” he added.
In 2012, a new glass enclosure was built on the occasion of the arrival so that the citizens visiting Karachi Zoo can fully see the lion.
No food shortage for zoo animals: officials
The contractor responsible for feeding the animals kept at the Karachi Zoological Garden has resumed food supply to animals on Nov 23, 2021, a day after he had stopped giving food to the zoo inmates over unpaid dues.
Contractor Amjad Mehboob said that KMC finance department has not paid him since February. A meeting was held with the zoo management on Nov 24 and they have assured of clearing the dues by December, Mehboob said.
Meanwhile Zoo Director Khalid Hashmi said the notice circulating on social media is a fake. “We have a week’s supply for zoo animals. KMC spokesperson turned down baseless news circulating about animals at zoo and said that all animals are healthy and being provided proper feed.
On the special directives of Administrator Karachi Barrister Murtaza Wahab, a team of KMC officers visited Zoo on Nov 23 and got information about animal food.
The city administration has found the director of Karachi’s Zoo and Safari Park as ‘responsible’ for poor maintenance of the animals. After the death of rare white lion, under immense pressure from public, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has suspended Senior Director Khalid Hashmi. In a letter, Hashmi was directed to relieve because of numerous complaints from various quarters.
The letter said that: “the complaints are of different nature and include allegations of maladministration, financial misconduct and ill-keep and poor maintenance of Zoo animals.” Interestingly, the letter said that the lion died on November 23 but actually it died on November 24.
“On November 23, a rare white lion has expired in Karachi Zoo and it is alleged that the animal was not provided due medical attention that could save its life,” it said. Mansoor Kazi has been appointed as the new head of the Zoo and the Safari Park on immediate bases till confirmation of his appointment order. Speaking at a press conference, KMC Administrator Murtaza Wahab said, “a sad incident took place in the Zoo. I am sorry for it because I am the head of the institution but the officer facing action for wrongdoing brought a stay order from the court.”
The KMC officials in a statement said that, former director Hashmi was twice removed from his position but both times he obtained a stay order from the court. They said that a senior KMC official with a good reputation was posted but Hashmi got another court order in Nov. On the orders of Wahab, an inquiry been initiated to probe the death of the white lion that died because of different diseases.
Though the KMC officials denied the viral video, but another citizen said that couple of days ago he along with his family visited the Zoo and found an ill lion lying in the enclosure with bad condition.
“We could see it sleeping in the enclosure,” Qadir Lashari said. Lashari shared a live video of his Facebook page in which a lion could be seen lying in a cage near the tiger.
“They’re animal prisons’: Celebrities want zoos ‘abolished’ in Pakistan after rare white lion dies
Outraged, numerous celebrities and netizens called out authorities for animal abuse provided the shocking state the lion’s body was photographed in, appearing seemingly ill-fed, starved and judging by the scars, abused.
Brought to the Karachi Zoo from Africa in 2012, the age of the lion was between 14 to 15 years. After a team of veterinarians performed an autopsy, the findings revealed he had developed pneumonia and its lungs had stopped working. However, some reports also claimed the lion died of a cardiac arrest due to excess fat deposit on its heart.
Now, a host of celebrities are pleading the government and law enforcement agencies to put an end to the ‘zoo culture’ while urging them to hold accountable those keeping wild animals in such deplorable spaces without taking care of their needs.
Taking to Instagram, actor Ushna Shah shared a photo of the now, dead lion writing, “They [the zoo authorities] are trying to pass [the cause of] the lion’s death off as tuberculosis but we all know that the contractor stopped giving food and for a long time, these majestic animals were starved! Also, just take a look at the scars on his body! From previous videos of the Islamabad zoo etc., one can guess the unqualified zoo keepers used to lash him whenever they interacted with him.”
She went on to remind her followers that Pakistan has displayed its inability to take care of animals, stray or wild, thus, “zoos should be abolished immediately! Pakistan doesn’t even have money to feed the animals the quantity of food they need to maintain a healthy weight.”
Ayesha Omar was mortified to discover how animals are being kept in the Karachi Zoo. Echoing the same sentiments, she tweeted, “Apparently because of lack of funds, this African lion died today. They say it was tuberculosis. He was being kept in the same enclosure as the lioness with such a contagious disease.”
Taking to her Instagram stories, Omar shared the video that circulated earlier of the same lion starving and wrote, “This video from a few days ago, I’m guessing it’s the same lion that died. This is horrific.”
Sharing another photo of the turtles being kept in the Karachi Zoo, Omar added, “The deplorable state of the Karachi Zoo, because apparently their funds have been cut off completely. My heart is going out for these turtles plucked out of their natural habitat, treated like this…”
Dubbing the claim suggesting the lion died of pneumonia a farce, activist Shaniera Akram lashed out on the micro-blogging site: “He died because we couldn’t look after him! Zoos should be a place where animals go for protection, hospitalisation, rehabilitation, recreation and breeding! At the very least, people can then go to observe them. Anything less than that are not zoos, they are animal prisons!”
Yashma Gill detailed how, after coming across the video of the starving lion, she decided to visit the Karachi Zoo to feed him herself. But upon inquiring, she was told that she wouldn’t be allowed to take food inside. “I was assured that the lion, along with the rest of the animals, are being properly fed now,” following which, she was relieved. “So I requested my manager to hopefully arrange a visit for me tomorrow, five hours later, this picture is what I receive from a friend of mine. Whoever was involved in this hideous crime, are you happy now?! Will the government release funds now?” she asked, furious. “I won’t write any further because I will lose control over my words and wish equally as bad on the humans who let this happen.”
In another story, she urged, “It’s time we put an end to the zoo culture. Especially when countries like ours can’t afford to feed animals.”
Armeena Khan cried out loud, “Torturing them, starving them, bezubaan par zulm kesay karletay ho? Mera dil hil jaata hai. Fear the day you will be held accountable.” While actor Yasir Hussain, hinting at the Muslim League Noon’s symbol, tagged Maryam Nawaz saying, “Sher tha, ap he bacha lety… (It was a lion, couldn’t you have saved him?)”
Before the news of the lion’s passing surfaced, several including Anoushey Ashraf, Ahsan Khan, Fatima Bhutto and Ahmed Ali Butt had urged authorities to take notice of his heartbreaking condition.
Ashraf had questioned, “What on earth is happening here?” While Khan called the neglect ‘shameful’ and ‘terrible’ while sharing a hadith that urges humans to treat animals like equals.
Bhutto lamented, “This is so cruel and so obscene. These are living beings. Who is the contractor refusing to send food? And why does the zoo not have funds available? Where have they been spent? Does the city government have no shame?” While actor and rapper, Butt pleaded, “For the love of God! Please take care of animals.”