Karachi Zoological Garden

Summer of Love
* Over July and August an astounding 122 ‘babies’ were born at the Karachi zoo whose staff is struggling to keep up with the ‘diaper changes’ and ‘feeding times’

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI  

AS you approach the caged enclosure a hot stink surrounds you, making you catch your breath. But as soon as you spot the baby monkey getting a free ride on mommy’s back, you exhale. It simply is the most tenderly beautiful thing to behold.
And nearly each cage or enclosure will have you oohing and aahing over the latest additions to the Karachi Zoological Garden. A total of 122 births have taken place at the zoo, better known as Gandhi Garden, over the last two months alone. The spurthighed tortoises have given birth to 67 tortoises and 14 crocodiles were born to one crocodile, increasing the number from 17 to 31. The other animals that have given birth are the sika deer (2), fallow deer (6), white fallow deer (3), mouflon antelope (3) and olive baboon (1).
The sprawling 33-acre, well-kept and lush zoo is home to 900 animals of various species. According to District Officer Zoo Mansoor Kazi, the latest additions to their numbers have created an even worse shortage of vets and staff. Fifty-five posts are vacant.
The zoo has a total of 140 staffers working in three shifts to maintain the 100-year old garden and entertain a massive number of visitors. For such a staff shortage, however, the gardens, fountains, reptile house, lawns, parks, Mughal garden, nurseries, natural history museum, veterinary hospital, food area and offices are rather well maintained.
Over the last few years, not a single new animal has been procured for the zoo from either within or outside Pakistan. Now it has only two male tigers and one pair of lions after the death of a female tiger eight months ago. The number of birds has not increased either.
DO Kazi said that they issued tenders two months ago for tigers, a lion, wallaby, leopards, ostriches and birds and hope that they will get them in the next couple of months. The zoo’s only female elephant, Anarkali, died in 2006 and has yet to be replaced. EDO Community Development Rehana Saif told Daily Times that they are in the final stages of ordering an elephant.
Even though there are over 900 animals, the city government has appointed only one veterinary expert in the morning shift when there should be at least one vet for 200 animals, according to the ideal international standards. Part of the problem, according to DO Kazi is that there has been a government ban on fresh appointments since 1997. Not a single official has been appointed to any post in the zoo, which has a total of 55 vacancies after some employees retired. “During the last couple of months, only 14 sweepers were appointed but we are still facing a shortage of staff,” he said. Nonetheless, the zoo has plans to expand the existing Natural History Museum with exotic stuffed animals belonging to different regions of the world. It doesn’t have to worry about certain species, who have been busy fighting off extinction in their own way.
-Published in Daily Times | Sept 15, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on September 16, 2008.

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