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Lahore Zoo

English: safari park lahore, pakistan
Lahore Zoo (Punjabi: لہور چڑیا گھر, Urdu: لاہور چڑیا گھر‎) in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, established in 1872, one of the largest zoos in South Asia. It is currently managed by the Wildlife and Parks department of the Government of Pakistan. Today the zoo houses a collection of about 1380 animals of 136 species.[1] Lahore Zoo was the host of the fifth annual conference of SAZARC in 2004.[3] The stated mission of the zoo is:
To carry out ex-situ conservation of species and to actively contribute to Pakistan’s International commitment in terms of the Convention on Biological Diversity in addition to provide excellent educational and recreational facilities.[3]
Lahore Zoo is thought to be the third or fourth oldest zoo in the world.[4] Vienna Zoo of Austria, established in 1752 as a menagerie, was opened to public as a zoo in 1779. London Zoo of England, established in 1828, was opened to public in 1847. The Alipore Zoo of India, established some time in the early 19th century, was opened to public as a zoo in 1876.
Lahore Zoo had its beginnings in a small aviary donated by Lal Mahundra Ram in 1872 to the Lahore Municipal Corporation. Over time the animal collection increased and the zoo expanded. It later began to take interest in conservation, education and research in addition to providing recreational facilities to the public. By 2010, the zoo was home to about 1280 trees of 71 species and 1380 animals of 136 species including 996 birds of 82 species, 49 reptiles of 8 and 336 mammals of 45 species.[3]
The zoo was managed by the Lahore Municipal Corporation from 1872 to 1923, when management was turned over to the Deputy Commissioner of Lahore. Management was transferred to the Livestock and Dairy Development department in 1962, and then to the Wildlife and Parks department in 1982. Between its founding in 1872 and its turnover to the Wildlife and Parks department in 1982 there was very little development at the zoo. Since 1982, it has upgraded its exhibits, layout, and landscaping, and has become a self-financing organization.[3]
A master planning, improvement and development project of 18 months duration was approved in on July 25, 2005. It was carried out by 'Zoo Maintenance Committee' and sponsored by Planning and Development Department of Government of Punjab. The project cost around 202.830 million Pakistani rupees and aimed for the improvement and addition of facilities.[5]

  Areas and attractions

  Animal exhibits

  • Fancy Aviary is as old as the zoo itself as it started as an aviary in 1872. The section houses a number of bird species, most of which are parrots, fowls, doves and pigeons and birds of prey. Other species housed are European rabbits, Indian crested porcupines, spur-thighed tortoises, Indian wolves, a wild boar and a jungle cat.
  • Tiger House was constructed in 1872 for a few hundred rupees and renovated in 1987 at a cost of about 5.1 million rupees. It has seven rooms and two moats which currently house Bengal tigers and lions. A bear pit exhibits a pair and two cubs of Asian black bears. Other animals include a pair of leopards and a pair of cougars.
  • Elephant House was constructed in 1972 at a cost of about 500,000 rupees. It has three rooms and three moats. It houses three endangered species endemic to Africa: a pair of hippos (named 'Raja' and 'Rani'), two white rhinoceros and a female African bush elephant (named 'Suzi'). Suzi was brought to the zoo in 1972 on its 100th anniversary.
  • Giraffe House is home to a variable number of plains zebras and Dromedary camels, a pair of giraffes (named 'Twinkle' and 'Sunny'), two Bactrian camels and a llama. It also exhibits three species of flightless birds or ratites: emu, ostrich and Southern cassowary.
  • Deer House contains more mammals than any other house in the zoo, including axis deer (Chital), blue bull (Nilgai), fallow deer, Indian gazelle (Chinkara), red deer, Sika deer, the near-threatened species of blackbuck and Mouflon as well as threatened species of hog deer, sambar and urial. It also houses red-necked wallabies.
  • Monkey House gained popularity when a pair of chimpanzees were introduced in 1994 and gave birth to triplets. As of June 2010, only three chimpanzees remain. Other animals in the section include black-footed gray langurs, olive baboons, capuchin monkeys, rhesus monkeys and vervet monkeys.
  • Crocodile Ponds are one of the more popular exhibits of the zoo. One pond houses two female gharials (locally called 'gavial'). Another large pond houses a variety of aquatic birds including great white pelicans, greater flamingos, mute swans and black swans. Another area is home to a European otter.
  • Snake House is the serpentarium of the Lahore Zoo. It was closed in June 2007 when about 20 snakes died because of suffocation.[4] After being renovated, it was reopened on April 30, 2010.[5] The exhibit houses species including Indian cobra, Indian phython, Indian sand boa Plans
    On December 8, 2010, it was announced that the administration of Lahore Zoo is planning to make Reema Khan, an actress, as the ambassador of wildlife in captivity. Current zoo director, Iqbal Khalid, told Dawn News that Khan will help create awareness among citizens about wildlife issues. It was also revealed, that Lahore Zoo will start renting exotic animals from other countries. This will give a chance to local people to learn more about different animals across the globe. Lahore Zoo plans to rent two Giant pandas from People's Republic of China.[30] "Once it gets a sponsor, the zoo administration will submit a request to the Chinese government for the animal, which is popular around the world. Chinese officials will visit the zoo to inspect housing and health facilities for pandas," said Khalid.[31]


    The plight of captive animals at Lahore Zoo, has been subject to criticism by local animal rights activists.[4][32]

      Safety and security concerns

    On 21 November 1999, an Asian black bear killed an 18-month-old boy named Abdullah in the zoo. The child, who was with his parents, tried to shake hands with the caged animal. The bear pulled the boy into the cage and tore him apart. An angry crowd tried to kill the animal but the police intervened to bring the situation under control. Zoo officials blamed the parents for allowing the boy to touch the animal.[33] On 8 January 2004, an attendant at the zoo was attacked by a red fox when its cage was left unlocked, causing a panic among visitors.[34] On 9 April 2007, two stray dogs entered an Indian peafowl pen from a broken portion of a fence and managed to kill about 28 peafowl.[35] This resulted in criticism as Indian peafowl is considered sacred in Indian subcontinent. On 10 May 2009, it was reported that a new born Macaw was stolen from the zoo. The zoo director said that someone from the zoo staff must have been responsible.[36] On 17 January 2010, two Asian black bear cubs went missing from the zoo.[18]

      Animal deaths

    Lahore Zoo has been criticized for not having the level of medical facilities expected in a modern zoo.[4][37] Zoo officials reported in April 2005 that three female black-footed gray langurs died due to cold weather the previous winter.[26] In November 2005, a male mandrill and male puma died at the zoo.[38][39] A female Asian black bear died in mid-February 2006.[28] In September 2006, some animals at the zoo were diagnosed with tuberculosis, which can also be transmitted to humans, but early detection and treatment prevented an outbreak.[40] In January 2009, a female giraffe was attacked by a plains zebra and died soon after due to injuries.[41]
    In October 2004 the Wildlife Department of Pakistan told the Daily Times that a four year old male chimpanzee had died in early August from pneumonia, but zoo management had not revealed this news to public immediately.[21] In September 2008, another male chimpanzee died at the age of 21 from a prolonged unidentified illness.[22]
    Lahore Zoo received a pair of Bengal tigers from Belgium in 1992 to start their captive breeding program. In 1997, six Bengal tigers died from Trypanosomiasis at the zoo,[42] and in 2006, four more became victims.[43] In July 2007, two female Bengal tigers, one of which had given the zoo 19 cubs, died from same disease. In early May 2009, a 3 year old female Bengal tiger died after a cesarean section to take out her dead babies.[36] In April 2009, a Bengal tiger gave birth to four In July 2009, a lion gave birth to two cubs but killed them by eating their heads. Director, Zafar Shah, said that the lion had been killing her cubs for the last three years and is a victim of cannibalism - a mental disease found in 5-6% of lions worldwide.[44] At Lahore Zoo, there have been many births of Bengal tiger cubs who are deformed and do not survive long. In late 2010, the officials showed concern for the issue of inbreeding that might be the reason behind these deaths.[5][45]
    In early November 2010, Lahore Zoo received 53 falcons which were being illegally transported to Qatar from Benazir Bhutto International Airport.[46] 16 falcons died due to heat strokes and other reasons. In April 2011, the zoo officials returned the remaining falcons to the wildlife department to be set free so that they can migrate to colder regions.[47]

     Smuggling scandal

    On 27 March 2009, two white Bengal tigers were brought into Pakistan from Indonesia without necessary import documents and sold to the Lahore Zoo. The sources said that trans-boundary movement of the rare and endangered species was controlled by the CITES and that a certificate of permission from CITES and permission from the Islamabad-based National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW) were both required before import of the animals. Lahore Zoo had neither. The director of the zoo, Yusuf Paul said the zoo had purchased two female white Bengal Tigers from supplier Mohammad Afzal of a Lahore-based organisation, Animal World, for 7.6 million Pakistani rupees.[48]and Russell's viper.
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