Islamabad, a pair of lions succumbed to death after it’s cage was put to fire in order to get them out of it. The officials were trying to transfer these lions to an animal shelter in Lahore to comply with the Islamabad High Court’s orders.
In 2016 animal activists of Islamabad started a campaign to end suffering of the captive animals in the Islamabad Zoo. A particular case was of an elephant named Kaavan. “Friends of Islamabad Zoo” (@IsbZooFriends) were notably active in this campaign for the animal rights.
Arriving as a one-year-old in 1985 from Sri Lanka, Kaavan was temporarily held in chains in 2002 because zookeepers were concerned about increasingly violent tendencies, but he was freed later that year after an outcry.
His mate Saheli, who arrived also from Sri Lanka in 1990, died in 2012, and in 2015 it emerged that Kaavan was regularly being chained once more – for several hours a day. Kaavan had become a victim of severe depression due to loneliness and the barbaric conditions which he had to face in the zoo.
Many people signed a petition sent to zoo authorities and Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in protest.
Kavaan has had many advocates over the years, none as tenacious as Cher. A petition for his release garnered 200,000 signatures on change.org , demanding Kaavan’s release to a sanctuary.
A gift by the Sri Lankan government, Kavaan has had animal rights activists in Pakistan lobbying for him for years. The pop star, with a reputation for being an animal activist, got involved in 2016. Her partner, also referred to in the tweets, in caps again, suggesting that Cher’s enthusiasm is not dampened by Twitter, Mark Cowne visited Islamabad to try and find a way to free Kavaan. Cowne who has worked with elephants in Africa, with his wife, reportedly met with Islamabad zoo administration.
Through Cher, Kavaan’s plight became mainstream news. Finally, it took a court to set him free.
The Islamabad high court directed the government to shift all animals in the ill-equipped Islamabad Zoo to sanctuaries within a month. The verdict by Chief Justice Athar Minallah ordered the relocation of a seized brown bear and Kaavan to a sanctuary. The verdict also instructed the government to ensure the upkeep of other zoo inmates as well.
Cher tweeted with delight:
THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE. CANT STOP😭,🥰,BEING SICK 2 MY STOMACH.(Ate🎂in The night & Was SOOOO Sick,Still am.Can you O.D from too much🎂)⁉️ BUT🐘KAAVAN IS FREE🙏🏻 😭DOWN MY CHEEKS,BUT HES FREE,&
THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE.
CANT STOP😭,🥰,BEING SICK 2 MY STOMACH.(Ate🎂in The night & Was SOOOO Sick,Still am.Can you O.D from too much🎂)⁉️
BUT🐘KAAVAN IS FREE🙏🏻
😭DOWN MY CHEEKS,BUT HES FREE,& @markcowne 🕊DID IT🙌🏻.GINA,👑JEN👑👏🏻
— Cher (@cher) May 21, 2020
The officials started acting on the court’s order in July after Islamabad High Court took a notice that it’s orders are not being honored. The court was informed on 18th of July 2020 that Kaavan would be sent to Cambodia in a month and arrangements are being made to transfer other animals.
It was decided that the lions would be transferred to an animal sanctuary in Lahore. On 30th of July a news emerged that both lions have died during this transfer.
The Chairman Wild Life Management told media that the lioness died due to travel stress. She was never out of her cage before.
However, a video footage went viral on the social media in which it can be seen that the lions’ cage was put to fire to get them out of it. A few men can be seen to beat the lions with clubs to get them out of the cage. It is reported that the lioness died due to injuries and smoke in her lungs while being transferred to the sanctuary in Lahore, and the lion succumbed to his injuries after two days.
During this transfer, three Blue Bulls and an Ostrich also lost their lives. It is being reported that many endangered birds are also suffered injuries.
Deputy Inspector General Operations of Islamabad Police has tweeted that a police case has been filed against the culprits.