Pakistani officials on Thursday began a new investigation at Islamabad Zoo, following the recent deaths of a lion and lioness. The investigation comes as a video circulating online shows a fire inside a lion’s cage at the zoo.
The ministry of climate change in the Pakistani capital said it had gathered a commission to investigate the deaths, which it blamed on the careless relocation of animals, poor-quality management and poor feeding.
The ministry said it was “seriously concerned” about the “intolerable and inhumane” treatment of zoo animals.
Anis ur Rehman, chairman of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, said two lions had died while they were being moved from Islamabad zoo to an enclosure in Lahore. “The lioness died in Islamabad while the lion died after reaching Lahore,” Rehman said.
He confirmed a blaze had taken place but said “it’s not true” the lions died because of fire. “We are waiting for the postmortem,” Rehman said.
He said the big cats had been stuck in small cages for years, so efforts to move them had been highly stressful for the lions. “Our staff has never moved animals. They have zero experience in handling the animals,” he said.
Horrible and criminal! Islamabad Zoo lion also dies after lioness. Animal caretakers seen lighting fire inside the cage to force the lion to come out which led to suffocation, injuries & death. RIP poor lions 🦁 Put these cruel criminals behind bars!@ImranKhanPTI @dcislamabad pic.twitter.com/MrptURFpGU— Islamabad Scene (@IslamabadScene) July 30, 2020
A court has ordered the relocation of all the zoo’s animals while the facility is converted into a safari park, Muhammad Saleem, a spokesman at the ministry of climate change, told AFP.
In May, the zoo made international headlines when Pakistan’s high court ordered the relocation of the lonely and mistreated Asian elephant Kavaan whose cause had been championed by the American singer Cher.
He had been kept in chains and exhibited symptoms of mental illness, prompting global outrage over his treatment. Kavaan will be moved to a sanctuary in Cambodia.
Absolutely shocked at the tragic deaths of two lions due to negligent mishandling during the #Islamabad #Zoo relocation of animals – the #IWMB emergency meeting tomorrow needs to bring out exact causes and fix responsibility for this criminal act of injustice pic.twitter.com/IvWXo7czr8— Malik Amin Aslam (@aminattock) July 30, 2020