Islamabad / Rawalpindi: With the sole elephant in the Margharzar zoo of the federal capital in a deplorable condition, a high court has asked the metropolitan corporation to shift the pachyderm to a shelter if it cannot adequately take care of the animal.
This was directed by an Islamabad High Court (IHC) bench, led by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, on Friday while hearing a plea filed against the condition of the elephant and poor care at the Margharzar zoo in the federal capital.
During Friday’s hearing, the counsel for the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) appeared before the bench and conceded that zoos in the country are not up to international standards.
Chief Justice Minallah remarked that it was a matter of great concern that the federal capital’s administration had failed to make and keep the zoo in accordance with international standards.
“If you cannot take good care of the animals, then shift them to shelter homes,” CJ Minallah remarked and directed the IMC to tell the bench at the next hearing of the case which animals will be shifted from the zoo to sanctuaries.
Earlier, the petitioner had pleaded that ‘Kaavan’, the elephant, was not being looked after properly in the Islamabad zoo.
Animal experts in the court had contended that it was cruel to keep social animals such as elephants, alone in the zoo. They also request the court to ban elephants at the zoo after ‘Kavan’ is shifted
The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Kaavan’s female partner ‘Saheli’ had died in May 2012 after suffering a respiratory system failure by lying down during her illness. No other partner has been brought for the pachyderm over the past seven years who has been forced to live in isolation.
There have been efforts in the past to shift him to an elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka, most prominently an effort backed by pop signer Cher two years ago when she sent her representative to Islamabad to speak with the authorities. However, IMC Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz had declined the offer to transferring Kaavan to an elephant sanctuary — even in exchange for two young elephants and training for zoo staff.
Instead, Aziz had maintained that they had staff who had mistreated the elephant had been reassigned while they were upgrading facilities at the zoo.
The 36-year-old Asian elephant is said to be suffering from “mental illness” and wildlife experts fear that without a change in habitat, his future appears bleak.
There was talk of bringing in a new mate for the pachyderm from his native Sri Lanka but that has yet to transpire.