Pakistan zoo struggles to protect animals from extreme heat

Wooden sign with zoo written in white with blue sky, animal news
Sign above entrance of zoo, photo: Filo via Canva

Pakistan’s Lahore Zoo is trying to keep its animals cool during a record-breaking heatwave, with temperatures reaching 45 to 48 degrees Celsius.

“We have installed fans and coolers, and we have placed ice blocks for animals that need it,” the zoo’s deputy director, Kiran Saleem, said. “We have put sprinklers at some places to make animals feel damp and cool. The most important thing is that we try to protect animals from heat stress.”

According to Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, most parts of the country are expected to remain in a heatwave in the coming week. People are advised to avoid unnecessary exposure to direct sunlight.

Scientists have warned that more than a billion people and animals are at risk of heat-related impacts in the region. They link the extreme temperatures to climate change.

In Larkana and Jacobabad, temperatures rose to 48 degrees Celsius. Low-income labourers in Larkana said they were bearing extreme heat without any help from the government.

“It is very hot. We haven’t had electricity nor any solar fan here. Someone from the government [needs to] be kind enough to look at our ordeal,” labourer Dhani Buksh said.

“I drive a donkey cart. It is very hot. It is extremely hot here. We use hand fans here. We have a solar panel here that can drive only one fan, and this solar goes out of order more often,” Mohammad Shareef Jamali, who owns a donkey to pull a cart, said.

A week ago, around 50 sheep died due to the heatwave in the Cholistan desert, newspaper Dawn reported. The animals had no access to drinking water.

“Animals suffer equally,” Mustafa Ahmad, founder of volunteer group SOS Animals Pakistan, told news outlet Cutacut. “Humans go through a process where their bodies start absorbing the heat around them. As the body’s temperature rises, it results in a fever. The same process happens in animals as well.”

According to Ahmad, about 1,400 animals died in the heatwave in Karachi last year.

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