The establishment of a national zoo association is crucial in order to improve animal welfare, their gene pool and conservation, World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan Biodiversity Director Uzma Khan said on Tuesday.
She was speaking at a workshop to highlight the importance of an organisation to enhance partnership among the zoos in the country.
“This workshop is a critical step towards the formation of a national zoo association,” she said, “Our zoos could then be represented at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).”
The workshop was attended by officials from the Lahore Zoo, Lahore Zoo Safari, Karachi Zoo and the Lamar Wildlife Park (in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa). Several climate change and WWF officials attended the workshop as well.
The participants agreed that the association could play a significant role towards improving coordination between zoos and provide them opportunities to share expertise and adopt best management practices. The association could also monitor the setting up of zoos, their administration and the quality of care and safety of captive wild animals in the country.
Former WWF director general Abdul Azeem Chaudhry said, “It will be hard to formulate legislation regarding zoos at the federal level especially after the 18th Constitutional amendment.” He said that consultative workshops for veterinary doctors should be organised under the aegis of the National Zoo Association. Diagnostic labs could also be established at the bigger zoos.
WWF Senior Programme Director Ghulam Akbar said that management of zoos should be taught in universities as a separate subject. He said the formation of a national association could ensure conservation of wild animals.
WAZA Council Member Sally Walker shared her insights with zoo officials and workshop participants. She said that she hoped that the formation of a national zoo association would be possible in the near future.
WWF Senior Director Ejaz Ahmad thanked the zoo representatives for attending the workshop. He said that he hoped that such events would provide a platform to initiate collaborative efforts for zoo management in Pakistan. He also thanked Sally Walker for her efforts towards improving the standard of zoos in the country.
The workshop concluded with the consensus that zoos should enhance cooperation with regard to animal care and educating people about conservation in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.
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