If you are tender-hearted, the Karachi zoo is not a place for you to visit. The general callousness towards the animals will scar you for life.
While zoos across the world attract hundreds of millions of visitors each year, the Karachi zoo today is the image of a forsaken animal prison. Few people visit and even fewer animals remain, whiling away their time behind rusty iron bars, waiting to bite the dust.
Despite having come under increasing criticism in the recent past, the Karachi zoo continues to keep its doors open, persistently violating all standards of animal welfare. Established in 1878, the zoo today is a shadow of its former self, faintly meeting its objective as a place for public recreation. Home to one of the oldest zoological gardens in the country, it is now a sight of negligence with patchy lawns strewn with ice cream wrappers and chips packets. And the plight of its animals is similar, their fate seemingly murkier than the water in the duck pond.
In the stagnating stench of urine and feces, animals are kept in cramped enclosures. With no objects or space to exhibit their natural behaviour, they either lie lethargically on the scorching concrete floor or pace up and down their unkempt enclosures. And the only reaction one can muster from them is either a blank or a wistful stare.
With no legislation or a specific Zoo Act in Pakistan for wildlife in captivity, the animals who are subjected to prodding with sticks from visitors goes unnoticed and unpunished. Like with all other government incompetences that are solved with privitisation, it would be better to hand the care of these animals in the hands of someone who understands the value of life.
Established in 1878, the zoo today is a shadow of its former self, faintly meeting its objective as a place for public recreation.
PHOTOS BY AMMAR HAQ
Dilaira Dubash is a senior subeditor on The Express Tribune magazine desk. She tweets @DilairaM
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 6th, 2014.