The islamabad zoo tragedy

A video went viral on July 31, 2020 where some men are seen torturing a pair of caged lions by beating them with sticks and later starting a fire inside their den. The vulnerable condition of the animals is evident by the way they try to escape the smoke that not only suffocated them but eventually resulted in their tragic death.

The case has been registered under Section 5 of Animals Act 1990. As per the law, anyone who is deemed guilty of killing any animal in an unnecessary cruel manner is to be punished and is liable pay a fine of Rs200 and can be imprisoned for up to six months. An FIR has also been registered and the ministry of Climate Change has also formed a committee to further investigate the matter.

Incompetence of authorities sparks public outrage

Reports claim that the lions were being moved from Islamabad zoo to a private sanctuary as per May 22 orders of the Islamabad High Court that regarded the current situation of the zoo as unfit for animals. Many have been outraged at the mistreatment of animals by unprofessional caretakers.

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Officials have claimed that the unqualified caretakers were not actually a part of the zoo staff or Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and were only sent in for additional help. This has raised many questions regarding the capability of the zoo in the capital and serves as a true mirror to the incompetence of authorities.

To further effectuate the gravity of situation, it has also been noticed that just a day before the incident took place, a nine-year-old lioness had also died while being transferred from Islamabad Zoo to a private breeding sanctuary. Out of a total of 380 animals residing at the zoo, most have been transferred; however a female hog deer, two ostriches and several exotic pheasants could also not make it to the private sanctuary like the ill-fated lions.

NGOs condemn the incident and demand justice

Many NGOs have stepped forward to condemn the incident and have advocated for the rights of these helpless animals. WWF has referred to the news and the videos as “unacceptable and deeply upsetting”.

This is not the first time such an incident has taken place whereby, innocent animals have fallen prey to the clumsiness of representatives. It is high time officials take legal action regarding this incident instead of dusting it under the rug like several others from the past.

Laws and regulations must be revised and sanctions must be introduced to update and maintain the standards of private and public zoos. The government should monitor them regularly and must seal those that do not follow guidelines.

The fact that animals are speechless does not assuage their sufferings; in fact it aggravates their agony even more. Criminal negligence must be questioned and punished as per the law to set an example for future times.

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