What happens when a zoo shuts down?

By Cutacut Editorial Team

KARACHI: Over the past few days, a shocking reality has come to light for the people of Karachi and that is the miserable conditions of animals in the city Zoo. As the condition of the 17-year-old elephant Noor Jehan began to deteriorate because of severe negligence by the authorities, many took to social media to demand that the zoo be shut down completely. However, while the solution sounds good in theory, what are the long terms hurdles that will come along with closing the Karachi zoo?

Noor Jehan had been suffering from a huge hematoma (a pool of clotted blood) inside her abdomen and was also suffering from intestinal issues when Four Paws, a global animal welfare organization, came to assess and treat the elephant. Just when things were looking up for Noor Jehan, shocking news came that she had fallen into a poorly constructed pond in her enclosure. For the past five days, the international team from Four Paws, as well as local volunteers have been working day and night to save the elephant.

As news of Noor Jehan began to circulate, limelight was shone on the terrible conditions of the animals present in the Karachi zoo. Many celebrities such as Ayesha Omar, Nadia Jamil, and Hamza Ali Abbasi pitched into the conversation demanding that the zoo be shut down. Not just the Karachi zoo but all the zoos in Pakistan.

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In the midst of all the anger, there were reports that the Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman approached the Sindh government and urged that the Karachi Zoo should be shut down as it lacks capacity to take care of the animals. The federal and Sindh government were reportedly in agreement to permanently close the zoo.

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But is closing down the Karachi zoo, or any zoo for that matter, as easy as it sounds? The Society for the Protection of Animal Rights (SPAR) uploaded a detailed picture that explained just how much time, money and expertise is needed in the shutting down of a zoo. One of the major concerns in the matter is the relocation of the animals in the zoo. They explained, “Shutting it [the zoo] down without proper planning will actually compromise the animals’ wellbeing.” They went on to explain, “A thorough roadmap will need to be created for the relocation of each animal. Shutting the zoo down before doing so will only isolate the animals further and cut off whatever care they do receive.”


SPAR cautioned, “It’s understandable to have powerful feelings in the face of this tragedy. But we must not seek out reactionary remedies. Karachi Zoo cannot shut down overnight. Months, maybe even years, of planning and preparation will go into this closure if it is carried out properly. Funds need to be arranged, the animals have to be prepared, sanctuaries need to be brought on board.”

However, while the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights has warned that the closing of the zoo is a long term solution, they did offer short term solutions, “Here’s a few things you can do to ensure the safety of Karachi Zoo’s animals:

1) Keep posting on your social media about this issue while the closure is being planned and executed.
2) Visit the zoo to check for yourself that the animals are being cared for during this process.
3) Educate yourself as thoroughly as possible so you can form informed opinions.
4) Have conversations with the people around you about why keeping wild animals captive is cruel.

It’s been a heartbreaking couple of days for Noor Jehan’s well wishers and we can only hope that with responsible bodies such as SPAR and Four Paws on board, good will come out of a otherwise tragic situation.

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