Animal welfare | The Express Tribune

Animal welfare | The Express Tribune

In another unfortunate incident at Karachi Zoological Gardens, Raju, the chimpanzee, died of a heart attack

In another unfortunate episode, Raju, the chimpanzee, died of a heart attack at Karachi Zoological Gardens. The zoo administration claimed that the chimpanzee died of a sudden heart attack and had shown no prior signs of heart-related illness. One can only hope that the administration has been truthful about Raju’s case. Still, many remain dubious as it wasn’t too long ago when the entire country watched Noor Jehan’s agony and eventual demise. This was followed by reports of another elephant, Madhubala, suffering from the fatal parasitic infection, Trypanosomiasis. Time and again, animal welfare organisations and activists have demanded the closure of zoos nationwide. But their calls fall on deaf ears as we continue seeing the development of zoos and sanctuaries in cities.

The maltreatment of animals in Pakistan stems from indifference and callousness towards animals. Just last week, a 20-month-old endangered Indus River dolphin was killed in cold blood. In the past, we have witnessed many instances where wildlife animals have been kept as pets, displayed in cages during political rallies or public events and given out as party favours or prizes at festivals. Similarly, visitors at zoos not only treat animals poorly but also leave animal enclosures and zoos polluted with plastic items, diapers, etc. While Raju’s death may not be a consequence of administrative negligence, it serves as a reminder that animals should not be captivated in zoos but allowed to thrive in their natural environments.

Unnatural and poor living conditions and zookeepers’ cruel behaviour affect animals’ physical and mental health, altering their life span and preventing them from living to their full potential. Besides enforcing existing animal welfare laws, provincial governments must take stock of the situation and either close zoos or refurbish them to suit the needs of the animals. Everyone holds the collective responsibility of protecting and safeguarding wildlife instead of raising a hue and cry only after a tragedy occurs.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2023.

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Animal welfare | The Express Tribune

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