Wildlife activists and experts have sounded the alarm over the life of Rano, a lone female Himalayan bear crammed in a small cage at a zoo in Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi. The calls come on the heels of the death of a female African elephant in April this year due to “inappropriate” conditions at the same facility, prompting local and international organizations to push for immediate steps to save other animals from a similar fate. Also known as the Himalayan red bear, the Himalayan brown bear is a subspecies of the brown bear found in the western Himalayas. It is the largest mammal in the region, with males reaching up to 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) in length, while females are a little smaller. The bear, whose natural habitat is the cold alpine meadows of Deosai National Park and other mountain regions of northern Pakistan, is a critically endangered species with only 150 to 200 left in the country, mainly because of human intrusion and the ravages of climate change. Languishing in a barren cage, Rano was brought to the Karachi zoo in 2017 along with an Asiatic black bear who died in 2020. Her cage has two small chambers and an open courtyard with a tiny pond in the middle. The weather-beaten bear’s coat has already started losing its color due to the hot and humid weather of the port city. In the wild, she would spend her days foraging for flowers, fruits, berries, grasses, insects, and small mammals such as the marmot. Today, she paces back and forth in a corner of her cage as a small crowd huddles around for a better look. “She needs to be taken out of Karachi zoo as soon as possible because she does not belong in a zoo,” Mahera Omar, a wildlife activist from Karachi, told Anadolu. “If she’s not shifted, Rano may meet a fate similar to the African elephant who died an agonizing death earlier this year,” she said. Omar insisted that the bear should be moved to a wildlife sanctuary in northeastern Pakistan before this winter. Located in Chakwal, a district in Punjab province, Balkasar Bioresource Research Centre provides a rehabilitation home and veterinary care for rescued bears. The sanctuary, established by a wildlife biologist Fakhar-i-Abbas in 2010, has already agreed to take in Rano. “Rano cannot wait. The ethical thing to do would be to let her go and let her go now, to the sanctuary. She has suffered enough,” said Omar, co-founder of the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society. Endorsing her argument, Sarwar Jamali, a veteran wildlife expert, said Rano will continue to suffer and face more health risks if she is not shifted to a sanctuary at the earliest. Rano is believed to have been poached from the wild as a cub and spent years in captivity in a private zoo before being brought to her current home in 2017 along with a male Asiatic black bear. The pair were made to live inside a Victorian-era cement pit that housed the zoo’s previous bear, Emma, who died in 2013. Following the death of the black bear, it took a court order for authorities to shift Rano to her current cage. However, Aamir Ismail Rizvi, deputy director of Karachi zoo, claims that Rano is a Syrian bear and was brought to the facility “under an exchange program from a private zoo” operating in the northern outskirts of Karachi. “It is a Syrian brown bear that does not require cold conditions. It’s very much fine here,” he told Anadolu. “She will be killed by other animals if we release her in the wild because she does not have the skills to survive out there, mainly hunting skills.” Jamali, who served for 33 years in the wildlife department, echoed the view but emphasized that Rano should be moved to a sanctuary. “Animals like Rano who have lived with or near humans cannot be sent to their natural habitats as it will be fatally dangerous for them,” he told Anadolu. He said the bear should be sent to the Balkasar sanctuary where the weather is much more suitable than Karachi.