KARACHI: The post-mortem report of the three lion cubs who died mysteriously within four days of their arrival at the Karachi Zoological Garden is expected within a week. The fate of the fourth cub, whose disappearance led to the discovery of the three deaths, is anyone’s guess.
Meanwhile, the zoo’s district officer, Mansoor Qazi, has been suspended for negligence towards the lions and Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani appointed Special Secretary Shazia Rizvi to head an inquiry into the matter.
The bodies have been put on ice, with a special generator in place in case of load-shedding. Their organs are to go to the Dow University of Health Sciences. The investigation team began its probe under the supervision of Revenue EDO Ghanwar Leghari on Saturday evening.
“The conditions that the babies were kept in were not at all hygienic and a team of experts are looking into it,” Leghari told The Express Tribune. “Everything will be clear after the post-mortem.”
The zoo is trying to pass the missing cub and the deaths of its siblings off on some form of ‘survival of the fittest’, claiming that the cubs’ mother, Sara, had tried to eat them. “The fourth missing cub is something we have to look into after the autopsy as our experts claim that the mother is captive and would not eat its own breed.”
Sindh Chief Chemical Examiner Dr Fazal Elahi Memon and the wildlife and animal husbandry team is examining the bodies.
On the other hand, the lions’ owner, Irfan Ahmed, expressed his reservations about the investigation to The Express Tribune. “The zoo has no proper preservation mechanism and by the time the post-mortem is conducted, all evidence will be gone,” he said. “It has to be done within 24 hours.”
“Sara delivered the cubs after 110 days, which is normal,” said Ahmed. “There is no possibility that an animal bred in captivity ate its own brood. The zoo administration is just a custodian, not the owners. They should have told us if they didn’t have the facilities.”
As for the missing cub, Ahmed raised another issue which must be taken into account when dealing with expensive animals like lions. He suspects the whole incident was a robbery bid gone wrong. “Zoo animal theft is a common thing these days. This investigation has to look into that side of the story as well because one lion cub is worth around half a million rupees.”
According to an animal specialist, the post-mortem will only reveal what the cubs ate before they died and whether they were suffocated to death. He ruled out the possibility of theft because the babies were not yet weaned off their mother’s milk.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.