A Pakistani zoo is auctioning off a dozen lions to private collectors next week to make room for a pride that won’t stop growing.
Lahore Safari Zoo now has so many big cats that their lions and tigers have to take turns to gain access to the paddocks, said Tanveer Ahmed Janjua, the zoo’s deputy director.
“Not only will we free up more space here, but our meat costs to feed them will also decrease,” he told AFP.
The zoo is currently home to 29 lions, and officials are planning an Aug. 11 auction to sell 12 of them, between the ages of two and five.
There are also six native tigers and two jaguars.
Conservationists oppose the sale, with environmental group WWF saying the creatures should be moved to other established zoos or that breeding females be sterilized or given contraceptives.
“Exchanging animals and donations between zoos is a widely accepted practice,” the organization’s Uzma Khan told AFP.
“Once an institution like the zoo puts a price tag on a wild animal species it encourages trade – which is counterproductive to conservation,” she added.
Keeping lions, tigers and other exotic wild animals as pets is not uncommon in Pakistan and is seen as status symbol.
Wealthy owners post images and videos of their big cats social mediaand rent them out as props for movies and photo shoots.
Zoo officials have set a reserve of 150,000 Pakistani rupees ($700) per cat, but hope each will bring in about two million rupees.
However, not everyone can participate in the auction.
Janjua said buyers will have to be registered with provincial authorities and show they have the means to provide proper care and shelter for the creatures.
Zoo veterinary officer Muhammad Rizwan Khan told AFP that an initial attempt last year to auction lions failed because potential buyers did not have the necessary documentation or licenses.
Numan Hasan, who has fallen out with the authorities in the past when he was photographed walking his pet tiger on a leash in Lahore, plans to participate.
“I will try to buy two to three lions for sure,” he told AFP, adding that the auction was a good way to diversify gene pool for private collectors who already own a large cat.
With little legislation to protect animal welfarezoos in Pakistan are notorious for their poor facilities, but Lahore Safari Zoo is considered one of the best, spread across 200 acres.
In April 2020, a court ordered the only zoo in the country’s capital to be closed after poor facilities and animal abuse were revealed there.
The facility drew international condemnation for its treatment of an Asian elephant named Kaavan, who was later airlifted to retirement in Cambodia in a jumbo project spearheaded by American pop star and actress Cher.
Veterinarian Khan said the animals at the Lahore Safari Zoo are given the best possible care – something reflected in their fertility.
“They experience a good life in captivity with us,” he said.
© 2022 AFP
Quote: Once, Twice… Pakistan Lions Auction (2022, August 6) Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-pakistan-lions-auction.html
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