Opened nearly four years ago, Peshawar’s lone zoo is marred with staff shortages which has led to a high number of animal deaths raising questions on the viability of the zoo itself. The Peshawar Zoo, which is spread over 29 acres of land and is one of the largest in the country, was opened to the public back in 2018 and is currently home to about 150 animals.
However, since its inception 40 valuable animals including snow leopards, common leopards, bears, peacocks, and giraffes have died with sources blaming the deaths on inexperienced staff, untimely treatment, and a lack of favorable environment for the animals. “The death toll in Peshawar zoo is still lower than other zoos in the country,” claimed former Director of the zoo Iftikharul Zaman, “as the zoo provides the best food and shelter for the animals housed here.”
However, Zaman’s claims are in contrast with what multiple reports have revealed. According to them, a bear brought to the zoo died by another bear’s attack; similarly, a deer was killed in another animal’s attack; three wild cats died due to lack of proper cages and environment; a snow leopard died at due to the lack of proper temperature and a friendly environment; a cheetah and three giraffes died due to liver complications and diarrhea; a zebra and markhor died due to colliding with a cage; a hyena died due to a tumor and a common leopard died suddenly when it contracted a disease.
The multiple deaths have also jeopardized the zoo administration’s hopes of bringing in bigger animals – like elephants, crocodiles, rhinos, hippos, and other rare species of animals for the fourth year now. For instance, a pair of elephants bought for the Peshawar Zoo worth a whopping Rs 90 million have not reached Peshawar for nearly two years now. Mohammad Hanif, the contractor who won the tender for the procurement of the elephants from Zimbabwe in 2020 even went to the Court. The elephant rooms which were built in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the elephants and cost millions of rupees are collecting dust for now.
There is only one veterinary doctor and four staff members at the zoo to take care of 150 animals. Furthermore, there is no veterinary lab present at the zoo, which poses multiple problems as well. The Peshawar High Court has taken notice of the deaths of valuable animals, and resultantly the provincial government has now finalized a plan to set up a veterinary lab alongside the zoo.
Director Peshawar Zoo, Niaz Mohammad, when inquired about the plight of the zoo, said that special teams are available around the clock to feed and care for the animals. “We will soon get new animals and the establishment of a veterinary lab will also improve the periodic treatment and breeding of animals.”