PESHAWAR: Various rights activists filed a petition against the Peshawar Zoo administration, seeking investigation and fixation of responsibility for what they termed ‘negligence of the Zoo officials’ that has resulted in the deaths of various animals.

The petition is registered by rights activists Dr Ali Jan, Adil Zareef, Jahan Mahmud Aurangzeb, Rukhsana Kuli Khan Khattak, Farzana Khan Wasim through senior lawyer Ali Gohar Durrani after the last surviving giraffe died because of a viral infection at the zoo. The petitioners sought directions that the conditions at the zoo be raised to internationally acceptable standards and animals not suited to Peshawar’s environment be returned to their natural habitats.

The petitioners also sought directions that the conditions at the zoo be raised to international acceptable standards and animals not suited to the environment at Peshawar be returned to their natural habitats or suitable sanctuaries and immediately be relocated from the zoo, with further directions to the effect that animals that are not suited to the environment at Peshawar be prohibited to be brought to the zoo altogether.

The petitioners also prayed for Peshawar Zoo to be made environmentally friendly with plantations according to international standards and that proper trained and experienced staff should be hired to look after the animals at the zoo, as well as establishing a laboratory for the diagnosis and prescription of any medicine to the animals that are suffering from any ailments.

The final relief, according to the petitioners, is in the establishment of an animal rescue and treatment centre that is especially responsible for stray animals that live in our society, wherein vaccination and neutering of stray animals can be done so as to ensure that various diseases such as rabies is avoided and their population is controlled.

The petitioners, numbering 24 have based their case on Article 31 and preamble of the Constitution and the corresponding Islamic Character of the state with verses and ahadith establishing the claim of the zoo animals not being treated well. Additionally, they have emphasised on judgments from various local and International jurisdictions in asserting their case.

It may be recalled that civil society members in the past had cautioned against setting up of a Zoo in Peshawar citing various reasons when the government announced it had selected Qadirabad located on Palosi Road as venue. However the PTI led government under the previous CM still went ahead and the zoo was finally inaugurated in Feb 2018.

Ever since then, there have been news of dozens of animals dying in captivity including a snow leopard. Couple of weeks back the last surviving giraffe, out of a total of three brought from Africa to Peshawar few months ago, has also died. There have been several reports in recent days expressing concern about the disturbing deaths of animals at Peshawar Zoo.

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