Every day some new building seems to pop into Lahore, whether it’s a shopping mall or a cinema or a fast food chain. Rather than paying attention to the old attractions in Lahore, new ones are being built, overshadowing places such as the Lahore Zoo. Why is it that our country feels the need to have state-of-the-art cinemas and shopping centres but our very own Zoo, which has been catering to the public for over 143 years now, seems to have just been pushed aside?
The Lahore Zoo has been famous for all the wrong reasons in the past -- mismanagement of animals and funds, smuggling, lack of interest in developing the place etc. An article written over four years ago claims that the Lahore Zoo was going to bring in exotic animals for the public to experience something new, such as a pair of Pandas on loan from China. However, there has been no news ever since this article, nor has the branding of Reema Khan as the ambassador of Wildlife in captivity done anything to raise awareness or funds for the Zoo.
For many of us Lahorites, the Zoo reminds us of our childhood, a place we were once so excited to visit. However, over the years, the Lahore Zoo seems to have lost its charm, its magic wearing away like the animals in its cages.
Still, the Zoo continues to be a source of entertainment and recreation for the public. No amount of movie theatres or shopping malls, which seem to offer us something better to do with our time, could overshadow its mass popularity.
Unfortunately, the website of the Lahore Zoo is also a mess; it leaves us with no way to contact the Zoo director or even put in a complaint.
The ticket prices are still quite reasonable, being a mere Rs25 for one adult, one-twentieth of the price of an average movie ticket these days. An increase in ticket prices would be understandable if the Zoo were to upgrade their facilities to international standards that would be suitable for housing endangered species such as Pandas and other various species.
Along with sophisticated enclosures, state-of-the-art health care would be required for the animals kept in the Zoo so that they stay healthy during the time they are loaned away from their country. Pandas, specifically, were planned to be taken on loan by Pakistan, however it was said that necessary funds were being arranged. Four years later, there is no sign of any Pandas or the funds.
The Zoo earns millions every year, along with an extra surge of income during holiday seasons such as the two Eids. Where’s all the money going, then? How is it possible that out of the revenue that the zoo rakes in every year nothing is left to reinvest in acquiring better conditions for the animals?
As February comes to an end and the city begins to turn into the inferno it always transforms into during summers, the least the Zoo officials could do for the time being is to make sure that the animals are well fed and taken care of.
The public wants something new; but how is the Zoo supposed to add new exhibits and species to its collection when it is struggling to keep its previous collection alive? Pandas are a sensitive and endangered race, loved throughout the world, as a symbol of protection of endangered species. It would do the Lahore Zoo some good to add a species like that to its repertoire.
However, the Lahore Zoo is infamous for bringing in new animals and then failing to provide them with proper care, causing them to fall sick because of small cramped spaces or die of exhaustion or a heat stroke.