LAHORE: The last remaining rhinoceros and hippopotamus in the country, currently residing at Lahore Zoo, are at risk of an early death due to loneliness and isolation, Express News has learnt.
The male rhinoceros at the zoo was brought to the facility in July 2006. The creature is currently between 20 to 22 years of age. Its female partner passed away in 2014. Since then, the male rhinoceros has been living a lonely and isolated life, starved for companionship.
This is the only African rhinoceros in the country. Previously, there was a pair of rhinos at the Laal Suhanra National Park in Bahawalpur. But the female of the pair died in January 2019 while the male died just a mere month-and-a-half later.
Senior Veterinarian Dr Rizwan, who was on the committee formed to investigate the death of the male rhino at Laal Suhanra National Park, revealed that the animal died because of loneliness. Nothing in the autopsy indicated the presence of a disease of malady, he said. The pair of rhinos was gifted to Laal Suhanra National Park by the Shah of Iran in 1982.
The male rhino had stopped eating and drinking after the female rhino had died, he added. “Elephants, rhinos and hippos are all social animals. They are at risk of mental diseases and an early death if their partner dies,” he stated.
In such cases, the animals are kept busy and are surrounded by caretakers whom they are familiar with, he explained. In addition to the rhino, there is also a female hippopotamus at the zoo. The animal was brought to Lahore Zoo in 2006 while its partner died in October 2015.
In February 2018, the Lahore Zoo administration issued a work order worth Rs11 million in order to purchase elephants, chimpanzees, rhinos, hippos and other animals. However, despite the passage of a year, elephants, chimps, rhinos and hippos have not been purchased.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2019.