It’s no hidden secret that Animal Suffering in Pakistan is real, whether it’s the culling of street animals or the horrific conditions of Zoo Animals or even the sexual assaults or mere cruelty of hurting them intentionally or unintentionally. The Zoos in Pakistan have been losing their animals due to the horrible living conditions and negligence. In the month of January 2019, the Islamabad Zoo lost four nilgais in a week due to the cold weather as no huts were constructed to keep the animals warm at night. The Elephant Suzi died in the Lahore Zoo due to loneliness. Other animals such as giraffe, lions and several other birds have lost their lives. Each animal has an average life expectancy, and when one dies short of it, it should raise eyebrows and when a number of them are dying way sooner than they should, it simply means that the Zoos are not up to the mark. The animals in Pakistan’s Zoos are not kept as per the International standards set by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA). Their cages are not designed as prescribed; the feed being fed is not nutritious and the medical facilities are also not up to the mark. After the Elephant in Islamabad Zoo became a highlight in the international media, it drew my particular attention. I researched extensively and realized that in truth the Elephant is genuinely suffering a great deal. Upon causal observation you would realized that the Elephant Kaavan in the Islamabad Zoo, is kept in isolation, in a concrete open enclosure and is kept chained at all times which has led to stereotypical behavior traits. Stereotypical behavior occurs when an animal is in extreme distress and is losing its sanity. It is a behavioral trait whereby an animal repeatedly does the same thing over and over with no apparent goal or function. In Kaavan’s case – he sways from side to side continuously. The reason for Kaavan’s distressful situation and Suzi’s passing at the age of 31 when Elephants live up to an average age of 50-60 years, is that the guidelines set out by EAZA and WAZA are not being followed. A Zoo is supposed to depict the exact environment an animal comes from. None of the enclosures in Pakistan Zoos depict the kind of environment the animal is coming from. In the particular case of an Elephant, the international guidelines are as per the breed of the Elephant. There are three types of Elephant namely the Asian Elephant, the African Forest Elephant and the African Savanna Elephant. All three have their distinct habitat but on an average they all require certain necessities, which include an enclosure based on their size, they require dry moats and wallows, swimming pools, they require for an indoor and an outdoor enclosure with closely monitored and controlled temperatures, in fact even the time spent indoors and outdoors is to be precise and so is the lighting of the enclosure. Elephants require rough and natural surfaces (mud, soil, sand, grass) such as rock structures or tree trunks to rub themselves against, a pool to bathe in and a particular non-slip surface to decrease the chances of foot disease and to eliminate the chance of slipping. Collective dust bathing, mud wallowing, scratching and bathing are thought to keep their skin in good conditions. Likewise their activities are also thought to have beneficial consequences for foot health, particularly when they dig around the edge of the pool. Water is particularly important for Elephants to allow them to cool and bathe themselves i.e. wild and timber elephants bathe everyday and a water source is an absolute essential as is shade due to the risk of sunburn. The caregivers of the Elephants must be present at all times, especially when Elephants bathe in the pool. In order to avoid injury the size of the pool and moat must not measure more than 2×3.5x1m deep. EAZA and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) both state that an elephant must have access to a pool during the day either indoor or outdoor, with dimensions of dry moots must not have a hard surface and should not be deeper than the recommended height. A written protocol is to be prepared in case an elephant has fallen into the moat plus a handler on hand. Elephants live in herds, they cannot be kept alone. Solitary confinement for Elephants is fatal for their emotional and mental health. Female Elephants spent all their lives in natal herds, they cannot and should never be kept isolated. Male Elephants spend their youth in the natal herd of females, learning the way of life, upon reaching puberty they move onto male herds and once they get sexually active they prefer living by themselves and usually portray aggressive behavior. Hence as per international standard recommendation there should be a number of Elephants in the Zoo, living together as close as possible to their natural habitat. In 2016, WAZA outlined the rules for keeping an elephant in the accreditation standard and related policies, which stated “Each zoo holding elephants must have a minimum of three females or the space to accommodate three females, two males or three elephants of mixed gender.” Perhaps this is the reason why poor Suzi lost her life at such an early age. Indoor enclosures are required so elephants can take shelter. This is also where much of the husbandries such as foot care and washing takes place. These generally consist of barns, which are often divided up into separate stalls so that individuals can be held separately. Indoor stalls should be at least 36 m2 per female and 45 m2 per male. Indoor enclosures should have floors that are impervious to water, quick to dry and slopped so to drain water – smooth surfaces but not slippery when wet. Some facilities use rubber mats etc. Indoor enclosures should reach a temperature of 20ºC and normal temperature should be 15 ºc. Good ventilation and heating should reach a minimum temperature of 12.8ºc. Indoor enclosure should also be well lit during daylight hours and have a normal dark period. Outdoor Enclosures according to EAZA should measure at least 400 M square for 3 elephants, 133 m2 per elephant excluding safety barriers moats and fences with a further 100m2 extra. The Asian Elephant is and can be comfortable with wet conditions, where as the African Elephant prefers a warmer climate. The animals in Pakistan’s Zoos are not kept as per the International standards set by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA). Their cages are not designed as prescribed; the feed being fed is not nutritious and the medical facilities are also not up to the mark Cold weather can be fatal for Elephants as once they cool they take very long to warm up again due to their large bodies. Very hot weather can also be detrimental for Elephants. In the wild they adapt their behavior to alter their body temperature for instance by standing in the shade, covering themselves in mud or bathing in pools. This is important consideration in enclosure design; particularly in regions where the outdoor temperature can reach over 27ºc Shade is required when temperature exceeds 27 ºC The Elephant Management Task Force of the AZA has defined 4 different types of human contact with Animals; Free, Protected – barriers, Confined contact, no contact unless sedated. Most Zoos have free contact, unless the male is at a stage of aggression, even then the animal must never be chained. The only instance when chaining is recommended is when the Elephant is undergoing a medical examination. Keeping this is mind it is beyond criminal the way Kaavan (Elephant in the Islamabad Zoo) is being kept. Animals of social species should normally be maintained in compatible social groups. They should only be kept isolated for the benefit of conservative and welfare needs of the groups and where this is not detrimental to the individual specimen. In the wild elephants move around in herds, where they learn a range of essential behaviors from their elders such as how to forage, where to find resources and how to care for young. The transmission of these skills is facilitated by the structure of the herd in the wild, which contains elephants from a range of overlapping age. Elephants and dolphins display behavior indicative of prolonged grief upon separation. Now as per news reports Pakistan is importing Zoo Animals worth Rs 40-50 million. In a country like ours where Animal Cruelty is overlooked, where there is a dearth of qualified and experienced veterinarians and every time you speak of Animals, you hear comments such as “oh well … no one cares about humans here why do you speak of animals” Whilst we don’t have funds to put our children through schools, or healthcare for our citizens, I don’t understand how we have millions to import Zoo Animals, that will obviously not be kept in conditions outlined by international standards and we will possibly not have the funds to give them a healthy lifestyle. Vouching for the terrible conditions of animals in Islamabad and Lahore Zoo, I can say I don’t see where the undisclosed amount of Zoo budget goes. Unofficial figures suggest the Zoo fund is allocated 11 million per month funding but no one really knows the exact budget really is. When interviewing a local Veterinarian I was told that while he was a consultant for the Islamabad Zoo, the management would report an animal health emergency and wouldn’t let any immediate medical assistant but would wait for notifications and approvals from higher authorities. Meaning the animal suffers till such point that the budget is approved and the notification is passed. It is also pertinent to mention that not all vets are qualified for Wildlife, most of them are only just experienced with domestic animals and therefore cannot handle wildlife animals. Wildlife conservation and husbandry is a whole different study and knowledge, it is not the same as treating domesticated animals. When speaking to an Animals Rights Activist based in Islamabad I was told that the Zoo Budget is not being spent on the Animals and the façade of the Zoo is a mere corruption hub in order to fill up the pockets of the Zoo Management and all those involved. The Ostrich eggs go missing, the deer is being gifted out and almost all the animals are distressed and malnourished. The Lahore Zoo is now importing a female white rhinoceros, a male hippopotamus, a pair of royal brown Bengal Tigers a pair of chimpanzees, two female Asiatic wolves a pair of red necked llama guanacos, a pair of tortoises, three southern giraffes and a pair of striped hyenas are also on the list of the new york order issued to procure new animals. Apparently only the Elephant being purchased is costing a total of 50 million PKR. The Lahore Zoo is repeating its mistake once again and purchasing the one Elephant. They say they don’t have the budget to purchase more than one, in which case no Elephant should be purchased and the amount should be used to put our children through schools or donate it to a public hospital! When we don’t have funds for humans and we don’t have funds to save our own natural habitat or provide shelter and food for our street animals, how and why do we have funds to bring in wildlife for a lifetime captivity purposes only so the officials can fill up their pockets. If it is so important for people to have an exposure to wildlife, perhaps we can screen documentaries in parks and maintain our parks for the public to come and enjoy their weekend. We can use these funds for human development, we can use these funds to spay and neuter our street animals so we don’t resort to inhumane ways of poisoning and shooting the animals to reduce their population, we can do so much more with the budget being spent on Zoos – which are a mere death row for innocent animals who never committed a crime! Published in Daily Times, February 9th 2019.