LAHORE: As temperatures continue to soar this summer, it has become increasingly difficult for families in Lahore to step outside of their houses during daytime and plan recreational trips to different places. As a result, parks, zoos and other recreational spots in the city remain deserted.
In order to allow families – especially children – not to feel deprived of fun activities and make the most of their summer vacations, the Punjab government has decided to launch a night safari service to facilitate people visiting the Lahore Zoo Safari.
Visitors will now be able to see playful tigers and lions during the open safari ride at nighttime. And to attract more visitors, zoo authorities are planning to add more wild animals and birds to the night safari, along with other features, such as high-standard food courts.
In 2015, the wildlife department of Punjab had recommended starting a night safari and tram service at Lahore Zoo Safari situated at Raiwind Road. However, the recommendation could not be practically implemented. Paying heed to the excessive delays, the current provincial government expressed interest in the service and has planned to complete the project. To thoroughly entertain visitors, the safari ride will be complemented with special light effects, tram service, magic shows, pet shows, fun fair, circuses and animal exhibitions.
Lahore Zoo Safari is the only zoo in the province where a safari facility for lions, tigers, zebras and deer is available. Artificial forests have also been grown in the park in order to provide wild animals with the look and feel of their natural habitat. There is also a huge aviary where dozens of peacocks, pheasants, parrots, macaws and other birds can be seen flying and playing in their enclosures.
According to Lahore Zoo Safari Deputy Director Chaudhry Shafqat Ali, the park – extending over 250 acres of land – will be providing safari services both during daytime and at night through which visitors will be able to enjoy great rides with wild animals and birds.
“More animal enclosures and aviaries are being built for new animals and birds at the safari zoo including artificial habitats for giraffes, elephants and monkeys,” Ali said. “Animals and birds of various species are also being bought to add to the zoo.”
He added that several wild animals and birds sleep during the day and stay awake at nighttime when they are more stimulated, active and playful.
“The loud roars of the lions and tigers echo throughout the park at night and seeing them playing around in their enclosures is always a sight to behold which most visitors miss during the day,” he said.
And since no fun activity can be complete without food, the zoo will now be equipped with modern and high-quality food courts that it would sell scrumptious food and snacks to the visitors. Ali added that the new arrangements will require the zoo to increase manpower to better maintain it while officers and staff will need to have special training for the night safari.
According to the zoo’s veterinary doctor Madiha Ashraf, the safari park has the highest number of big cats.
We get blood samples of the animals tested every three to four months so that we can ascertain the presence of any blood parasites or other diseases so that timely treatment can be provided,” she said.
“We also change animals’ feed in accordance with the season, therefore, we don’t need to take any special initiatives for animals and birds for the night safari as we already have all the required measures in place.”
According to visitors who frequent the zoo, the nighttime arrangement will be of great benefit for many people in Lahore, especially those who do don’t have time during the day or do not wish to step out in the scorching heat.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Salomi, a regular zoo visitor, shared that she seldom gets time during the day to visit any places but a safari ride at nighttime will be a welcome change for her.
“Night safari services would be a great leisure option for people like me,” Salomi said. “I hope that I will now be able to visit the zoo along with my children and other members of the family more often.”
Similarly, Munazza Naqvi, another visitor at the zoo, said that the facility will offer people great pleasure as they could enjoy their favourite foods during the safari rides too.
Per the zoo administration, security is a principal issue before the night safari services are started. The current law-and-order situation in the country is threatening and poses some serious risks.
“The number of closed-circuit cameras installed at various points of the safari zoo is inadequate,” a zoo official told The Express Tribune. “Before starting the night safari service, we need to improve the security arrangements here and ensure that we have a foolproof mechanism in place.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2019.