Just when we breathed a sigh of relief after it emerged that Islamabad Zoo’s lone elephant Kavaan will soon head to Cambodia, where he will retire at an animal sanctuary, videos and pictures of a brown bear in dreadful conditions at the Karachi Zoo have sparked furor and outrage on social media. Celebrities including Ushna Shah, Armeena Khan and Mashal Khan expressed their distress over the condition of the bear and urged authorities to shut down the zoo.
In a message penned in Urdu, Ushna said that zoo culture should be completely eliminated and that citizens should actively campaign for them to be shut down.
“If you like looking at animals, go observe them in their natural habitat. When you come and look at them in zoos, you add to their agony”, said the actor.
“Raise your voice for those who can’t speak,” she added.
Armeena urged her followers to help the brown bear or else he would die.
Mashal Khan said that she is “sick to my stomach after learning of this poor baby in Karachi zoo, being jailed without food, water, health care”. She asked her followers to raise their voice for the bear and help end her ordeal.
Later, the actor shared that she and her friends are filing a Constitutional Petition in the Sindh High Court to rescue the baby bear and have her transferred to Skardu where she can be reunited with her family.
Meanwhile, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Administrator Dr Iftikhar Ali Shallwani slammed the claims and said that the bear is “hale and hearty” at the zoo. Sharing a video of the bear playing in his enclosure as well as a report on its condition, Dr Shallwani said: “The KMC is trying it’s best to give natural habitat to the animals at Karachi Zoo.”
However, reports have suggested that all is not well as the administrator has claimed. According to a senior Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) official, the bear is not used to living in Karachi’s hot weather conditions, especially during this time of the year when it needs to hibernate in freezing temperature.
Another SWD official said that Karachi Zoo’s management was responsible for the bear’s dreadful condition. He said that the animal does not belong in the zoo and that she needed to be kept in an air-conditioned room, in darkness.
After the pictures of the bear went viral on social media, a picture of a malnourished and underfed lion was also widely circulated with people criticising the Karachi Zoo administration for mistreating animals.
However, it later emerged that the picture of the lion was not from Karachi Zoo.
Last week Feroze Khan had also posted pictures of Karachi Zoo’s dilapidated conditions and had questioned where his taxes were going.