44 Marghzar Zoo rare species temporarily shifted to Ayub Park

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By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: While talking exclusively to The Daily Mail, the Director General Army Heritage Foundation Brigadier Muhammad Asif Akhtar said that a total of 44 animals have been temporarily moved from Marghazar Zoo to in Jungle World Ayub Park until the animal sanctuary in the Capital is completed. Army Heritage Foundation Director General retired Brig Mohammad Asif Akhtar stated that animals and birds have been brought to Jungle World Ayub Park, Rawalpindi, where they will be look after, under the supervision of veterinary doctors. These animals include four Blue and Black Bulls each, seven Monkeys, 17 rare breeds of Rabbits, four Urials, five Zebras and three rare breeds of Wolves. In this regards a team has been formed to look after the new arrivals, under the supervision of a veterinarian. He said Jungle World Ayub Park Rawalpindi is one of the best zoo in the country as well as in South Asia, housing white tigers and other rare breeds.“We are making efforts to provide a better environment to animals and follow the directions of the team of veterinary doctors. Special arrangements have been made for them in the winter and summer seasons,†he added.

The Army Heritage Foundation Director General retired Brig Mohammad Asif Akhtar said steps are being taken to provide entertainment to residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Lawns, a jogging track, a Zoo, Cricket and FootSall grounds, Trail and Quad Bikes, Zippiness and Jet Boating facilities have been provides at Ayub Park, he said, and more facilities will also be provide as part of new projects. The vintage park has a number of military vehicles and equipment, he said. On the same day, the court will likely announce decision on Kaavan’s relocation to Cambodia. Earlier the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Chairman Dr Anis Rehman told media that the animals were shifted to the Ayub Park Zoo Rawalpindi on the directives of the Islamabad High Court. He said the arrangement is temporary, and the animals will return to Marghazar Zoo Islamabad in a few months.Dr Rehman said that the Ministry of Climate Change has made a plan to improve the zoo, and Rs1.3 billion have been allocated for its reconstruction.
“After the completion of these projects, the animals who have been shifted to other sanctuaries will be brought back,†he said. In May, the IHC had ordered for Marghazar Zoo’s animals, including the lone elephant Kaavan, to be shifted out of the Zoo because they were kept in terrible condition. After this, the Ministry of Climate Change decided to establish a sanctuary that meets the behavioral, social and physiological needs of animals.The official of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in last proceeding that none of the provinces of Pakistan was ready to take two Himalayan bears that are in the Marghazar Zoo in poor conditions.These bears were rescued by the IWMB Islamabad from their captors as they were being used for entertainment purposes which are illegal according to Pakistani laws. The poor animals were tortured and their teeth were taken out by their masters. The IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had ordered in May 2020 this year to relocate all the animals from the zoo of Islamabad after two lions and several other animals were reportedly killed because of Zoo administration’s negligence. The IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was so furious about the death of the animals that he initiated contempt proceedings against IWMB officials, Minister of climate change and federal secretary. In pursuance of the IHC orders, three wolves, two bears, five Vervet monkeys and 17 rabbits were shifted to Ayub Park sanctuary of Rawalpindi, the court was informed in last hearing.

A Gujranwala based private family offered to adopt the rare bear after the refusal of all government departments all over the Pakistan, to look after the bear. An official of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) informed that Islamabad High Court (IHC) in last proceeding that none of the provinces of Pakistan was ready to take two Himalayan bears that are currently being kept in the Marghazar Zoo in poor conditions. It is pertinent mentioned here that the case fixed before honorable Chief Justice Islamabad High Courts for today. The chief justice while directing the head of the Four Paws team Dr. Amir Khalil to brief the court on Kaavan’s health adjourned hearing till today Monday, September 28th 2020.
About the bears, Chairman IWMB Dr Anisur Rehman informed the court that Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) wildlife departments had refused to take those bears. Chief Justice Athar Minallah expressed his dismay that animals were not being accepted by the provincial governments.This is the level of our sense of care towards animals that were maltreated and tortured unendingly, said Chief Justice Athar Minallah.“We have become so corrupt that we don’t hesitate to misuse food for the animals and sell it in the black market,†said Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
The IWMB Chairman also informed the court about the only Asian elephant Kaavan in the zoo. A team of Four Paws International has come from Austria to assess the animal’s health and fitness for its relocation to Cambodian elephant’s sanctuary, he said.The chief justice while directing the head of the Four Paws team Dr. Amir Khalil to brief the court on Kaavan’s health adjourned hearing till today Monday, September 28.On the same day, the court will likely announce decision on Kaavan’s relocation to Cambodia.“There were three wolves, two male and one female, besides monkeys and rabbits that we have relocated to their new abode in Ayub Park,†said Dr. Amir Khalil. “After giving them anesthesia, we put microchips into wolves’ bodies as mark of identification and vaccinated them as well as conducted complete medical examination,†he added.
They seem to be in good condition and fit to be relocated to the Ayub Park, he said.When asked if he was satisfied with the facilities in Ayub Park, he said the facilities and space in the park’s sanctuary were quite good.After relocation of wolves and monkeys, the Marghazar Zoo is now left with only Kaavan, the only Asian elephant and the Himalayan bears.About the bears, Khalil said there were two Himalayan bears, one male and one female. They are apparently 17 years old. The female bear is sick and operated and overall they are in better conditions. Four Paws experts have been requested to come and examine Kaavan’s health and fitness to be relocated to Cambodia’s sanctuary for elephants.