Acquisition of new elephant for zoo delayed due to legal, environmental issues


–Lahore Zoo director says due process completed by admin, however, procurement expected by December 31 owing to other factors

LAHORE: Amid criticism over its failure to get a new elephant even after the passage of a year since Suzi died, the administration of Lahore Zoo has admitted that the acquisition has further been delayed till December 31 due to legal, procedural and environmental issues.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Lahore Zoo Director Hassan Ali Sukhera said the process for acquiring the elephant was completed on part of the administration since April, but international obligations, delay in getting a Non-Objection Certificate (NoC) from international wildlife organisations, state-to-state obligations and contracts, procedural complications and environmental issues were deferring its procurement.

“There are no monetary issues on our part. We have the needed funds and have issued the work order as well as the contract to procure the elephant to a renowned contractor. Now international obligations are coming our way. Representatives of the exporting country will visit Pakistan and will check whether we have the standard facilities to keep the elephant. The NOC will be issued after that,” he said.

“Our biggest issue is the environment. The summer season is very hot and it is not suitable to acquire a new elephant in these weather conditions,” Sukhera said while speaking of other hurdles in way of the procurement. He also gave the example of recently acquired 14 giraffes, 10 of whom died due to the fatigue of travelling and change of environment.

“They came from an average temperature of 14 degrees centigrade in their home county while the temperature here in Lahore was 40. We do not want to repeat this episode again. We will bring the elephant in December so that the elephant does not face an immediate change of temperature after a 12-14-hour-long journey.”

It is pertinent to mention here that Suzi, the only elephant in the zoo, died on May 13, 2017, and the authorities concerned tried their best to procure a new elephant last year but failed. According to experts, Suzi died due to loneliness as she had never experienced the pleasure of living with her own species during her 24-year-long stay at the Lahore Zoo.

The zoo, which was established in 1872, had attained the fame of being a well-maintained recreational spot for the general public but now has started losing its lustre after the death of several animals that were the zoo’s main attraction, including Suzi, lions, a giraffe and several birds.

Briefing Punjab Chief Secretary Akbar Durrani on July 23 during his visit to the zoo, Sukhera had informed him that a new elephant, purchased from Africa at a cost of Rs50 million, would arrive at the zoo in August.