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Tuesday Aug 11 2020

Animal deaths in zoo: IHC issues contempt notice to Zartaj Gul, Wildlife board members

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday issued contempt notices to Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, members of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and others over the death over the death of a lion and a lioness during their transfer from the zoo to a sanctuary.

Last week, the two animals had died while being shifted from Marghazar Zoo to a sanctuary. A video obtained by Geo News had showed mismanagement on part of the zoo officials as zoo staff could be seen in the video setting fire in the cage and using sticks to scare off the animal but it got frightened and confused instead.

During the hearing today, Naheed Durrani, the secretary Ministry of Climate Change, told the court she takes full responsibility for the incident at Islamabad Zoo, saying it had nothing to do with Cabinet members.

To this, Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that since Cabinet gave approval for the Wildlife Board, it thus has to take responsibility for it. “The notification for the Wildlife Board was issued after approval from the Cabinet. The court is issuing a show-cause notice to Board members. Whoever wants to say anything, can respond to the notice,” Justice Minallah remarked.

To this, Durrani said the Law Ministry had said no member of the Cabinet can be part of the Wildlife Board.

“Should I hold the prime minister responsible for the incident then?” Justice Minallah asked. “The prime minister probably doesn’t even know about the incident. Unfortunately, you want to drag the prime minister into this as well.”

The court then issued show-cause notices to Gul, secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, the SAPM on Climate Change, and members of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and directed them to submit their response.

‘Animals kept hungry, thirsty’: reveals report

The medical report of the lion who died while being shifted from Marghazar Zoo to a sanctuary had revealed that the animals had been kept hungry and thirsty as well.

The report, obtained by Geo News, had stated that the lion had gotten weak as he was kept hungry and thirsty at the zoo.

The report further mentioned that while the lion was being shifted to the sanctuary, it was kept in an enclosed place, which caused additional discomfort and led to the animal feeling suffocated. It said that various wildlife laws were violated while the animal was being transferred from the zoo.

It added that the lion's lungs had darkened in colour due to bleeding. It said that the animal, besides being denied food, was not vaccinated and swelling was observed in its lungs and liver.

Several animals at Islamabad zoo dead

Moreover, zoo officials had admitted that six deer had died during transfers so far. These included two spotted deer, two elks, and one Indian gazelle.

In addition, they acknowledged that a Belgian Blue cow, as well as a lion, lioness, and ostrich each, had also died. Officials said the bird had died due to a cloth being tied over its face.

In this regard, zoologists have opined that the reason animals were dying was transfer processes being carried out during unfavourable weather conditions.

Cold weather, on the other hand, is a good choice for the shifting of animals, the experts said.