PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s first and Pakistan’s largest zoo, spanning on 29 acres of land was inaugurated by KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in Peshawar on Monday. Pervez Khattak said on the occasion that the project was a priority of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)-led provincial government. “I had said in my first speech after taking charge as chief minister that we will make Peshawar beautiful,” Khattak expressed. Consisting of 60 cages for more than 800 different species of birds, 23 cages for some 50 herbivorous and 10 carnivorous animals in seven enclosures, the first phase of the zoo was completed in a record time of just two years and one week at the cost of Rs 428 million. The zoo’s project director Muhammad Ali informed that currently the zoo had acquired all animal species that could be found in the seven federating units of Pakistan. “The number of the animals and birds would further increase in the near future as we plan to bring in many more animals from other countries,” he expressed. He added that animals like cheetahs, tigers, elephants, giraffes, oryxes, lamas and zebras would add to the variety of the animals at the zoo along with different species of monkeys from African countries. The project director also said that visitors to the zoo would have an opportunity to walk through an enclosure of birds. “Besides, there would also be a butterfly park, a 1.8 kilometre jogging track, a cycling track and a number of lawns for visitors to rest and dine in,” Muhammad Ali said. Khattak had laid the foundation stone of the Peshawar zoo project on February 3, 2016. During Phase-I of the project, a total amount of nearly Rs 129 million was approved in May 2015. However, CM Khattak directed for a revision of the PC-I during a visit to the site in November 2016. New facilities, including a children’s theme park, a lion house, a walk through aviary and a butterfly park were incorporated in the revised project. A revised PC-I amounting Rs 2,104 million was approved later in May 2017 and construction work on the project was put on fast track. Talking on the occasion, KP Secretary for Environment Syed Nazar Hussain Shah said that the Peshawar zoo was four acres larger than the zoo in Lahore, thus making it the biggest zoo in the country. “The construction of the zoo was done in a record time. It has all species of birds and animals found in Pakistan and we will be spending Rs 600 million on bringing new animals from other countries,” Syed Nazar Hussain said. “The zoo also has a walking track for people interested in daily walk in green and scenic locations. A horror room for children will also be constructed inside the zoo,” he added. Khattak expressed that the zoo would expand with time as new animals and facilities are added to it. “No one in the past gave importance to the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This zoo, along with the Bus Rapid Transit System and other projects would add to the beauty of Peshawar.” Published in Daily Times, February 13th 2018.