Karachi Zoo struggles with finances due to closure

Food, medicines purchase for animals, and maintenance is met through revenue collection


Shakir Sultan June 07, 2020
PHOTO: ABASEEN KHAN AFGHAN

KARACHI: To contain the spread of Covid-19 in the province, the Sindh government has imposed a strict restriction on public gatherings, leading to the closure of all parks and recreational spots in the city for an indefinite time, including the Karachi Zoo. As a result, the facility is undergoing a severe financial crisis owing to a complete loss of revenue.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Karachi Zoo director Kunwar Ayub said that since the imposition of the lockdown, the zoo has been suffering from an acute shortage of funds.

“Each year, Rs120 million to Rs130 million are spent on the annual expenditure of the zoo, including the purchase of feed for animals as well as their medicines,” he said. “We meet this expenditure through the revenue generated by the zoo, which has now become impossible due to the closure of the facility.”

Ayub added that all the savings of the zoo, made possible through the collection of revenue, have been exhausted within the last two-and-a-half months.

“With no savings, the smooth supply of food and medicine to the animals could become a big problem as there is no income,” he said.

Ayub said that Karachi mayor Wasim Akhtar had been intimated about the problem and he had appealed to the Sindh government to issue funds on an emergency basis for the sustenance of the animals.

“Irrespective of the financial situation of the zoo, we will starve ourselves but we won’t let the animals suffer in any way,” he said.

When asked, Kunwar Ayub said he cannot share the details of the amount generated in revenue each year, saying that the zoo contractor is responsible for keeping a check and balance on it.

The Karachi Zoo is home to more than 1,200 different types of animals, including tigers, elephant, cheetahs, pumas, white lions, monkeys, crocodiles, snakes, bears, zebras, a variety of birds, deer, and ostrich.

The zoo covers an area of 56 acres while hundreds of kilogrammes of meat, vegetables, fruits, sugarcane, wheat, maize, millet and other grains including pulses are provided to these animals, all of which is met through revenue collection.

On average, 3,000 people from all over the country visit the zoo every day for recreation.

“Even though the zoo is closed, employees regularly have to come to the facility to care for the animals. The animals have to be fed on time, checked for diseases and provided with medicines on a daily basis,” Ayub said. “The maintenance of the zoo and its exotic residents is the responsibility of the management, so we have to do it at all costs.”

He said that apart from the provision of food and medicine to all the animals, their cages and closures were also regularly cleaned, a practice which is crucial to maintaining the health and well-being of the animals.

In view of the escalating Covid-19 situation in the city, a high alert has also been issued for the Karachi Zoo, in that all zoo staffers are required to undergo a thorough medical examination before entering the zoo. Besides that, the alert also prohibits the entry of all unauthorized persons, including the police and Rangers, while making it compulsory upon the authorised staff to use masks, sanitisers and gloves.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2020.

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