Lahore zoo’s big cats up for sale to public

The high cost of keeping surplus lions is weighing heavily on the provincial wildlife department

Asif Mahmood February 26, 2022


Animal sanctuaries in one the country’s most populated cities have an overcrowding problem and to address it Lahore zoo has decided to auction animals especially its big cats. Currently, the total number of surplus lions in different zoos of Punjab is more than 20 - the Lahore zoo which houses 26 lions, is looking to offload 8 African lions and the Lahore Safari Park which is home to 40 lions will auction 12 of them.

Secretary Forests and Wildlife, Shahid Zaman, while talking to The Express Tribune informed that the department had 3 priorities regarding surplus animals. “The first priority is that we will pair the surplus animals with animals across the 21 small and big wildlife parks and zoos in Punjab for breeding. After that, some animals will be released into protected areas and if we still have a surplus we will auction them to the public,” he explained.

Zaman added that since bigger cats could not be released into the wild they would most likely be auctioned off. It is worth noting that a previous auction which was held earlier during the month, in which nine parties participated, failed because 8 of the 9 parties did not meet the stringent auction guidelines set by the Punjab Wildlife department. Badar Munir, Chairman, Task Force for Forests, Wildlife and Fisheries, Punjab, while breaking down the auction process to The Express Tribune said that any person or entity can participate in the upcoming auction of lions and tigers, however, it was necessary for them to abide by the rules and regulations laid down by the department.

The rules that participants have to comply with include: having a wide cage, availability of a veterinary doctor, registration certificate as a breeder from Punjab Wildlife and a no objection certificate (NOC).When asked how much would a lion cost, Munir informed that in the past big cats were being sold at the prices of sheep and goats but this time it would be different. “We will now sell them at market rates. The price of an adult African lion in the open market is between Rs3 million to 3.5 million.

Read: Wildlife dept launches search for man with a big cat in Karachi

Therefore we have set a reserve price of Rs150,000 This will start the bidding process and the highest bidder gets to take the animal home,” he said. Munir cautioned that buying a lion was no joke as it required massive funds even after the auction was over, which was one of the reasons the cats were being auctioned off in the first place as the zoos could not afford to feed the surplus animals.

“An adult lion eats 8 to 10 kilograms of meat a day and chicken once a week. The cost of a day’s food for a lion is roughly Rs5,000. So if you do the math, it costs somewhere upward of Rs150,000 per month to feed and take care of a lion,” Munir told The Express Tribune.


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