KARACHI: The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and the same is the case with the Sindh government’s international standard zoo in Karachi.
The project has suffered delays for the past 18 months, especially due to the lack of zoological experts. So far, only walls and ceilings have been constructed. The master plan for the animal enclosures and main renovations has yet to be formulated – they currently only have a conceptual plan. The Karachi Zoo management has expressed serious reservations on the conceptual plan, terming it ‘callous’ towards the animals’ psyche and habitat.
According to the plan, Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, giraffe, and several other types of birds and animals are supposed to be purchased but this has not been done yet. All around the world, zoological experts are kept in the loop during changes or reconstruction of zoos, yet the Sindh government deviated from this and instead hired a consultation forum without previous experience in reconstructing zoos.
In 2016, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah gave the task of upgrading the Karachi Zoo to local government department. The plan includes reconstruction of the Karachi Zoo, construction of an open enclosure, reptile house, aviary, advanced animal hospital with the latest technological equipment, purchase of animals, animal aid centre, emergency centre, beautification of botanical gardens, plantation, construction of a staff colony, renovation of the streets, public toilets and parking area.
Karachi Zoo loses one of its lions
With four phases, the project began in October, 2016 and was meant to be completed the following year, however, the Sindh government still has not prepared the open enclosure’s master plan nor has it begun any construction work.
Sources have revealed that the Sindh government allocated Rs30 million for the renovation of the zoo, including the purchase of animals and civil work. The cost is expected to increase after the completion of the master plan. As of now, 95% of the work on the boundary wall has been completed. Imported blocks with images of animals were supposed to be placed in the boundary walls but this has yet to be done.
New water pipelines are being installed for the provision of clean drinking water. Various animals have yet to be purchased. According to sources, the local government department will purchase the animals with funds that have yet to be provided by the government. No progress has been made in this regard yet.
The renovation of the zoo is the responsibility of the provincial government; however, the local government is also responsible for assistance and provision of facilities. Sources have stated that the consultant company hired by the Sindh government has no prior experience in constructing zoos, which is why the master plan of the Karachi Zoo and open enclosure plan has yet to be finalised, despite the passage of a year and a half. The initial plan is riddled with flaws.
Chinkara deer gives birth at zoo
According to zoo officials, the initial plan did not take into account the animals’ needs and could have proven to be life threatening to some species. The plan includes construction of an animal hospital on the west side of the zoo, which is not suitable as the air runs from the west and is liable to carry viruses from ill animals to the healthy ones.
In the present plan, three big spaces have been allocated for parking, which takes away space from the zoo’s animals. The plans include an open closure and river for monkeys, bears and other animals which is dangerous. These animals are not kept in open enclosures because they can easily escape. Bears can swim to freedom.
These animals are usually kept in closed enclosures to prevent their escape but according to the plan, only two cages are suggested for birds.
Monkeys need sunlight otherwise they fall sick. However, according to the suggested plan, the space where animals will be kept receives less sunlight.
The plan for the aquarium also has flaws – it suggests big tanks for the new aquarium but this will affect the PHP and salinity of the water as numerous species of fish will be kept in the same tank.
The official said the plan suggests keeping the lions in a warmer area, which could make them fall sick.
Lahore Zoo all set to acquire 19 new animals
Senior director of the Karachi Zoo, Mansoor Qazi, told Express News that he took charge of the zoo recently, which is why he is receiving so many briefings and collecting details from all the officers concerned. Speaking about the renovation project, he said the consultants have been instructed to give a detailed briefing of the plan and to hold a meeting with zoological experts.
Project director Niaz Soomro told Express News that the consultant team has submitted an initial report, which he will discuss with the wildlife department, zoo administration and other experts.
Soomro said that the consultants have been instructed to submit the master plan at the earliest. The Sindh government is quite serious about the zoo’s redesign according to international standards, he said, adding that the actual cost of the project will be estimated after the master plan is completed.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ