Following the death of two lions – a male and female – at the Islamabad Zoo, DIG Operations Islamabad announced that an FIR (first information report) has been registered against those who set fire to the cage. According to details, the lions were injured due to mismanagement of caretakers who were trying to force them out of the cage by igniting a fire in their cage.

Advisor to the Prime Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam also expressed his shock over the matter and said that an emergency meeting of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has been called to discuss the issue.

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In a video doing the rounds on social media, caretakers can be seen lighting a fire inside the cage in an attempt to force the lions to move out. Their act disturbed the lion, who is seen roaring and moving frantically inside the small cage full of fire and smoke. As a result of this, the animal sustained severe injuries and suffocation. Reports also stated that the lion was beaten with sticks. The lion was later shifted to a veterinary hospital where he succumbed to the injuries. Officials claim that the ill-trained caretakers did not belong to the zoo or Islamabad Wildlife Management Board but were sent to facilitate the lion’s transfer.

However, IWMB Chairman Dr Anis Rehman while speaking to AFP discarded the initial reports and said that the lioness died in Islamabad while the lion died after reaching Lahore, clarifying that the lions did not die because of fire.

“We are waiting for the postmortem,” Rehman said.

Meanwhile, earlier a nine-year-old female lion from Marghazar Zoo died while being moved to a lion sanctuary in Lahore. A male lion who was transferred with her is reportedly seriously ill. He is being looked after by veterinarians at the Mohiuddin Private Breeding Farm on Ganda Singh Road in Lahore.

IWMB Chairman Dr Anis Rehman said the lion possibly passed away “due to travel stress” while being relocated. The lions were moved at night between July 26 and July 27.

Dr Rehman explained that the process of shifting animals in cages causes them stress. In addition to this, weather conditions are also not favourable for the animals. According to reports, officials at the Ministry of Climate Change said that it was not advised to shift the animals in this hot and humid weather.

The death of the lions sparked outrage once again and social media users demanded action to be taken against those involved in their deaths.

Friends of Islamabad Zoo, who have been actively campaigning against the inhumane conditions at Islamabad Zoo, expressed their grief at the “unbearable loss of animal life that has occurred due to mismanagement and unqualified employees”. They also condemned “this gross lack of oversight”.

WWF-Pakistan also condemned the incident and hoped that those responsible are taken to task. They also said that “WWF-Pakistan has also stepped down from the Board of the IWMB” in protest.

Unfortunately, the lions are not the only ones to die. According to Dawn, a female hog deer also died while being relocated. Dr Rehman said a male hog deer hit the female, wounding her, and she died during the journey to a sanctuary. Two ostriches, several exotic pheasants, two spotted deer, two elks, one Indian gazelle and a Belgian Blue cow have also reported having died en route. Animals at the Islamabad Zoo are being relocated to temporary sanctuaries after the Islamabad High Court ruled that the zoo is not fit enough for them and lacks the necessary facilities.