Missing lion cub case: Without lion’s feacal sample, investigators have gut feeling case won’t be solved

If Sara ate her cub, as the zoo claims, the remains would show up in her excrement.


Irfan Aligi August 16, 2011

KARACHI: The Karachi Zoological Garden’s claim that the lioness, Sara, ate one of her cubs and killed the other three is going to be hard to prove given that the post-mortem team never collected any stool samples from the big cat.

“Collecting the stool sample for a post mortem is imperative because hair is not digested,” said an expert.

The cub went missing on Friday, August 12, and its three siblings were found dead in their cage. While the lions’ owner suspects foul play on the zoo’s part, the zoo claims the cubs’ mother ate them. The logical explanation would be that the cubs died of the cold when it rained. However, that does not explain the disappearance of the fourth cub.

The post-mortem report that will hopefully settle the matter is due within the next few days. However, as samples collected from the animals do not include stool samples from the lioness, verifying the zoo’s version of events could prove impossible. The authorities have despatched samples to Dow University of Medical Sciences’ histopathological laboratory while some samples have been handed over to the chief chemical examiner of the Sindh government.

The head of the inquiry committee, Ghanoor Ali Leghari, told The Express Tribune that the committee could not find any excrement in the lioness’s cage or anywhere else.

In the report submitted to the city administrator, the Karachi Zoological Garden’s district officer, Mansoor Qazi, had mentioned that the cub had been eaten.  The autopsy of the three cubs has been completed and their bodies have been stored in ice. “I assure you that the inquiry would be without prejudice,” Leghari insisted.

Zoo DO refuses to comply

Mansoor Qazi was suspended on the directives of Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani and on Saturday, Syed Mubashir Hussein Zaidi was named the new zoo district officer by DCO Muhammad Hussain Syed. However, Qazi did not relinquish control of the zoo to Zaidi and all the doors to the garden were shut on Tuesday.

“When I reached the zoo and asked Qazi to hand over charge of the zoo, he refused and said that he did not acknowledge the orders,” said Zaidi. “I have reported the matter to the city administrator.”

The missing elephant skeleton

Karachi zoo’s only elephant, Anarkali, died in 2006. The skeleton was supposed to be displayed in the museum but it is nowhere to be seen. The city government’s Community Development Department claims that, as Qazi has been solely in charge of the zoo, the inquiry committee should also look into the missing skeleton.

City Administrator Fazlur Rehman has already directed Leghari to include all details of animals, dead or alive in his report.

Another suspicious incident to do with dead animals occurred back in 1992 when the zoo’s rhino died and its horn was cut. It is also missing and the market value of a single horn is $26,000.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.

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