Willful ignorance?

Published: July 29, 2019

The smell test, they say, originates from utilising one’s olfactory senses to check whether food or any other perishable item is still palatable or has taken a turn for the worse. A walk through the Margharzar Zoo in the federal capital, and your will be bombarded with a sensory overload for more than just your nose and every fibre in your being will scream out that something is quite wrong.

Zoo officials, during a recent hearing in the Islamabad High Court pertaining to the poor conditions for marsh crocodiles there, admitted that they did not have the adequate resources, tools and training to take proper care of the animals. The zoo even lacked a veterinary hospital to treat sick animals. Even international concerns, regarding the health of the elephant in the zoo — Kaavan — have been raised with US singer Cher sending her representatives to evacuate the pachyderm to a sanctuary in Sri Lanka. The offer was politely but firmly declined by the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC).

In such a situation, the court had sanctioned a move for the climate change ministry to take over the zoo. But the ministry has come out to claim that zoo officials were reluctant to hand over control to any other government organisation or department. Further, it said that the government pours in some Rs110 million into the zoo every year despite its relatively modest size when compared to larger facilities such as the one in Lahore which receives Rs130 million.

That something is going quite wrong at the zoo is evident. The reluctance of zoo officials to hand over control and remain tightlipped about it further adds credence to suspicions of wrongdoing. Perhaps the government should consider involving the National Accountability Bureau to get to the bottom of things.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2019.

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