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Animals in presidency, PM House fed food bought for Marghazar Zoo.

Byline: Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD -- A large portion of the food procured for the animals in the Marghazar Zoo is set aside for those in the mini zoos in president and prime minister houses.

The mini zoo in President House was established in 2008 on the orders of the then president, Asif Ali Zardari, who is said to be fond of animals.

Initially, the animals in the zoo included deer, monkeys, zebras, nilgai, pheasants and other birds.

Caretakers, vets from main zoo, paid by MCI, also deployed to look after animals in mini zoos

It now only has some deer, shinkara, pheasants and other birds such as grey parrots and pigeons.

The zoo in Prime Minister House is smaller with just a few peacocks and pigeons.

According to a senior official of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), a large portion of food purchased for Marghazar Zoo is taken to the zoos in the presidency and Prime Minister House as they do not spend on their zoos from their own budgets and put the burden on MCI.

'The annual cost of procuring food for the main Marghazar Zoo is Rs50 million of which Rs3 million goes towards food for the other two zoos,' he said.

Caretakers and veterinary doctors of the main zoo have also been deployed to look after the animals in the other two zoos and they are also being paid by the MCI.

The condition of the main zoo in the federal capital is already deplorable due to the negligence of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), which looked after it before the establishment of MCI, and the non-provision of funds by PPP and PML-N governments which were required for the revamping of the zoo. The plan for revamping the zoo was initially drawn up in 2007.

The Marghazar Zoo houses more than 100 species of animals most of which are birds including pheasants and ducks, which reproduce more than the other inhabitants of the zoo.

The zoo is attracting less and less tourists every year- with only a pair of lions, a brown bear, an elephant, some zebras and deer as the main attractions- and charge only Rs20 per person as entry fee.

A total of Rs20 million is said to be collected in entry fees every year which can be improved if there are more animals in the facility.

'We can bring more animals and earn more if the project for revamping the zoo is completed,' the MCI official said, adding that this year, the government has provided Rs200 million for the restructuring plan under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and additional funds will be provided later.

Physical work on remodelling the Marghazar Zoo was started in 2008 and work was halted due to the lack of funds.

Currently spread over 40 acres, the zoo was to be extended over another 80 acres with an additional 70 animal enclosures.

The project was split in five phases the first of which was started in 2008. Only two enclosures were constructed before the project was halted.

CDA had spent Rs30 million on a feasibility study and redesigning work.

The city managers were told by consultants that in order to meet the international standards, the zoo management will have to maintain a proper kitchen for preparing food for animals, a veterinary clinic, proper cages and enclosures for animals.

According to international standards for zoos, managements have to maintain the same environment and temperature for every animal as they are used to in natural environments.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 14, 2018
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