Pakistan Does NOT Need Zoos

The announcement by the Punjab’s caretaker Chief Minister in July 2023 regarding the construction of new zoos with international standards in major towns, including Lahore, raises questions about the government’s priorities and the potential consequences of such a decision.

Pakistan’s history with animals and zoos is indeed tainted, marked by a lack of proper care and shabby conditions in which animals are kept.

For decades, zoos across the country have been criticized for their neglectful treatment of animals, leading to a grim reputation for animal welfare. Numerous reports have emerged over the years, detailing the appalling conditions that captive animals endure in Pakistani zoos.

Animals are often kept in small, cramped enclosures that bear no resemblance to their natural habitats. Concrete cages, barren landscapes, and inadequate facilities are commonplace, depriving animals of the space and enrichment they need to thrive. Disturbing images of malnourished and sick animals have circulated in the media, shining a harsh light on the dire conditions in which they are kept. Many animals suffer from physical and psychological ailments due to the stress of confinement and the lack of mental stimulation. Moreover, lack of transparency and accountability coupled with corruption and mismanagement have plagued zoo management institutions, diverting resources away from animal welfare and conservation efforts, leading to a vicious cycle of neglect. Despite the existence of laws and regulations aimed at protecting animals, enforcement has been lax, allowing the mistreatment of animals to brazenly persist.

Rather than investing in the construction of new zoos, the government should prioritise efforts to improve animal welfare and conservation through alternative means. Supporting and promoting wildlife sanctuaries, creating protected areas for endangered species and implementing stronger legislation and enforcement to combat illegal animal trade would be more effective ways to protect Pakistan’s diverse wildlife.

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