Sans Lion King

The main attraction at the Marghzar Zoo, the lion king, has died at the age of 20. “The animal died of prolonged illness as he was suffering from arthritis,” the Zoo Director, Raja Javed said. He said the normal age of a lion is 15 to 18 years. “It was a natural death,” he claimed.

“The lion had been under treatment for one year, but due to old age he could not survive,” the official said.

However, sources in the zoo said the African lion died of leg injuries and lack of proper medical care by the zoo authorities.

They said the Capital Development Authority (CDA) was trying to conceal the news of the lion’s death which died three days ago, and no official announcement was made in this regard.

The sources said the lion had received injuries on his legs some times back when some visitors hit him with bricks while he was sleeping in his cage.

They said the incident took place due to lack of proper care and attention by the zoo management, which should have appointed a full-time caretaker to ensure that the lion remained safe and healthy.

A CDA official said the lion was gifted to Islamabad zoo in mid-’80s by a resident of Chakwal. It had already lost his lioness, which died some six years ago, he said.

“We had been trying to complete the pair by bringing a lioness from Bahawalpur Zoo in return for a male elephant. But the deal could not be materialized,” he said.

The official said the CDA had decided to bring more animals from different zoos in the country, and special funds had also been allocated to upgrade the capital zoo.

“Though the zoo has very small number of animals, the authority spends Rs4 million annually on its maintenance and payment of employees’ salaries. An amount of Rs2.5 million is being spent annually on animals’ diet,” he said.

The official said in order to make the zoo self-reliant, the CDA had to increase the entry fee, which was now Rs5 per head. The authority, he said, was also considering upgradation of the zoo through the assistance of private sector.

He said bringing more animals was not the problem, but for this, the CDA first needed to construct more cabins, cages and huts for them. Similarly, the authority has to generate more funds to make the zoo self-reliant to meet expenses of animals’ food.

The official said a tiger ate 8kg to 10kg of meat a day, while an elephant needed 200kg of sugarcane daily.

A pair of elephants in the zoo was donated by the government of Indonesia, and the CDA was contacting South Asian Zoo Cooperation for bringing in more animals. “We have decided to bring more animals like crocodile, zebra, ostrich etc., for the attraction of visitors,” he said.

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