The inner roundabout and roads in zoo redesigned. While, work on the restoration of old fountain, coloring and painting work on animal's cages, corridors and tree trunks underway speedily. Karachi zoological garden is one of Karachi's top attractions and is the country's oldest zoo founded about 118 years ago. Its interesting background also plays a part to make it one of the tourist attracted historical place of the country. British government of India in 1843 had decided to construct a vegetable and dairy farm for the facility of its citizens in a land situated at present near Nishter Road and Sir Agha Khan Road (third) Karachi. The work was completed under the supervision of Major Blenching during the period of Sir Charles Napier.
Municipal committee took the charge of this land in 1861 and converted it into a public garden. In 1878, the municipality placed the zoo under a trust to be developed out of public contribution. Later, in 1881 the zoo once again opened to public. Before independence, it was known as Mahatma Gandhi Park.
According to sources, in 1953, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation introduced a zoo curator and a qualified veterinary doctor. In 1992, the Japanese Princess inaugurated the remodelled Natural History Museum. Currently, total strength of Karachi Zoo is about 240 staff members.
Despite of many shortcomings, this historical place is a source of fun, recreation and education for people of all ages. Located at the center of the city, the zoo is home of around 450 birds of different species, 180 mammals, and nearly 200 reptiles. There are 100 small and large cages for keeping the animals.
The park occupies 33 acres of the land with huge mystic shady trees (women often make wishes under the shades of tamarind trees), spacious lawns, play areas and lake (a natural habitat for many species of ducks, geese, and swans) where children and elders get opportunity to enjoy nature and its beauty. A very interesting fact about the zoo is that Wednesday restricts only for females and children under the age of 12. Flock of women with their children visit the park and spend their leisure time here.
The zoo is divided into different areas, which are great fun to explore and help make it one of Karachi's most popular tourist attractions. The most popular area is Elephant home, which especially draw the attention of little children.
Natural History Museum of the zoo renovated in year 1992 comprises of stuffed animals, skins, antlers, horns and feathers. The Mughal Garden, once an ideal location for shooting film scenes, is one of the main attractions of the zoo. It contains beautiful flower bushes and fountains. KMC authorities recently announced that after its renovation more than 200 rose saplings will be planted in the Mughal Garden.
All excellent and modern zoological gardens include aquariums to display aquatic and rare species for public. After three years of shut down, Karachi Municipal Corporation at last reopened the aquarium on 4th January 2012 for general public as a new year gift. More than 30 species of fishes kept in the newly renovated aquarium while the revived reptile house has now over 40 kinds of reptiles, snakes and python including lizards, snakes, tortoises, and crocodiles.
As visitors walk through the zoo, they surrounded by beautiful range of imported and local varieties of birds including parrots, pigeons and macaws. The oldest elephant of the zoo was "Anarkali" who died in July 2006 at the age of 65. Captured from East Pakistan (Bangladesh) in 1950 and she spent most of her life in the zoo. After the death of anarkali, a leading newspaper wrote this condolence note "Like so many other zoo animals, Anarkali's life too was full of much suffering and neglect. Perpetual wounds on her body from having to sleep on concrete, or the stress and discomfort she endured chained to the ground by three legs for 20 hours a day. If one of the worst punishments for a human is solitary confinement, it is a bit odd that doing the same to a wild animal can be called care. And while entertaining her presence may certainly have been for the recreation-starved residents of Karachi, it was no joyride for Anarkali."
In recent years, there has been a growing public debate about the inadequate facilities for both visitors and captive animals. Many visitors make complains of poor sanitary condition, lack of security measures, pick pocketing during peak hours, unhealthy environment, inefficient management, poor animal care and their smelly cages.
Mysterious death of world's rare species and stealing of expansive animals raised fingers to cruel attitudes of the zoo administration. Few months ago administration accused of causing death of four lion cubs. The cubs were born in the zoo first time in 42 years on August 8th to sara and albert. Sources disclosed that cubs were kept in unhygienic conditions. The zoo administration claimed that the fourth cub w?? eaten by the lioness. However, the chemical and histopathological examination of lioness's stool did not prove the claim. Further, there is no evidence that an animal bred in captivity ate its own offspring. After this sad incident, experts demanded of an autonomous body to oversee the working of a zoo because district government is deficient in the required proficiency to run the facilities for caged animals.
Mostly the visitors come from sub-urban areas hurt animals especially monkeys, lions and tigers for the sake of entertainment. There should be trained and vigilant staff to charge level-headed amount of fine on visitors found hurting animals by throwing stuff inside the cages. Administration should start media campaign for educating visitors, the manners of dealing with captive animals. (Photos by Ikram Mehdi)