Suzie, Bubloo to be relocated to Jordan

IHC says Himalayan brown bears will always represent Pakistan

Saqib Bashir December 15, 2020


The high court on Monday disposed of a contempt of court petition against the board managing the Islamabad Zoo and the climate change ministry after it was told that the two Himalayan bears at the facility will be relocated to a sanctuary in Jordan.

This was directed on Monday by a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah, as it heard a contempt of court petition against the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and the Ministry of Climate Change over their failure to relocate the two bears, Suzie and Bubloo to the Jordanian sanctuary despite issuing an export order for the bears.

In a six-page order penned by CJ Minallah, the court noted that the IWMB, in a meeting of its board on December 11, had deliberated the relocation of the two Himalayan brown bears to an appropriate sanctuary. After taking suggestions from experts, the wildlife board decided to relocate them to an appropriate sanctuary in Jordan till a facility can be established that will meet their behavioural, physiological and social needs.

CJ Minallah wrote in the order that the natural habitat of the bears was the high altitude plains of the Deosai National Park in the Himalayas. He added that it was inhumane to keep the bears deprived of living in their natural habitat merely for public entertainment.

“They have remained caged in the Marghazar Zoo for over a decade,” he noted, adding, “A zoo, no matter how well equipped, is no less than a concentration camp for living beings.”

CJ Minallah stated that both the bears were subjected to unimaginable pain and suffering and there was no justification for this cruel treatment other than to entertain spectators. “Their abnormal behaviour, while imprisoned, is sufficient to speak volumes for the pain and suffering they have been put through,” he added.

“Both Suzie and Bubloo, the brown bears, could have been taken care of in Pakistan but time was required for creating an enabling environment and a facility that would serve as a sanctuary.”

The IHC chief noted that the relocation of the bears to appropriate sanctuaries, like the Asian bull elephant Kaavan before them, will set a precedent for others to follow.

“This is a step towards changing mindsets and would definitely contribute towards fighting the evils that today threaten the peaceful existence of the human species on this plant because it is a recognition of a fundamental principle; life is the most precious creation of the Creator and its protection is a duty of every human,” he wrote.

Both bears could have been taken care of in Pakistan but time has to be put in to create an enabling environment and funds allocated for a facility that would serve as a sanctuary, the order pointed out.

“Kaavan, Suzie and Bubloo will always be ambassadors of the people of Pakistan, a reminder that the human race can go extinct if the animal species and their rights are not protected.”

The IHC also lauded the services rendered by Dr Amir Khalil of Four Paws in assisting the IWMB and the government.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2020.


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