No probe into four lion cubs case in three months
Both inquiry reports have suggested action against zoo staff whose negligence, according to the reports, led to the death of three lion cubs and disappearance of another one at the Karachi Zoological Gardens on Aug 12.
Two pairs of lions were confiscated by customs authorities at Karachi airport last year on grounds that the animals were being imported on an expired permit.
The big cats were handed over to the Sindh wildlife department which shifted them to the zoo saying the `wildlife` department had no facility to keep wild animals.
While the matter`s still pending in court, a lioness gave birth to four cubs three months ago. The cubs could survive just for five days — three of them were found dead in their cages while the fourth went missing the same day.
The incident led to the immediate suspension of the zoo chief by minister for local bodies Agha Siraj Durrani, who ordered an investigation into the incident. Another inquiry was ordered by the then administrator of Karachi. Though the details of the investigation ordered by the administrator have been highlighted by the media, the second inquiry report is being kept secret.
According to sources, the second inquiry, too, held the zoo staff directly responsible for the incident as they were found negligent in performing their duties. The report, the sources say, recommends penalties against the zoo staff, including the suspended zoo chief and the vet, who was later suspended with another staff member by the then district coordination officer, now administrator of the Karachi Municipal Corporation, Mohammad Hussain Syed.
No show-cause notices have yet been issued to the staff as announced by Mr Syed on Sept 28. There is also no indication that a police investigation, as suggested by an inquiry report, would be carried out in the disappearance of the fourth cub.
“The government can`t suspend an official for an indefinite period. Under the Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1974 in force in the province, the government needs to extend the suspension period of the zoo chief since the 90-day suspension period under the rules will end on Nov 13 and the case is still undecided,” a government official said.
The long time being taken by the government to decide the case, according to sources, is greatly hampering the daily affairs at the zoo where the staff is performing their duties reportedly in an environment of uncertainty and fear.
“Ad hocism is damaging for any institution. The lower grade staff of the zoo is very much under the influence of the suspended officials who have been living on the premises for long and continue to influence the staff in whatever way they want,” said a source.
Speaking to Dawn , Mohammad Hussain Syed, administrator of the KMC, said he had been so much occupied with his other official engagements over the past few weeks that he `forgot` to issue the show-cause notices.
“I would issue show-cause notices or a charge-sheet, whatever is required under the law, in a few days. I am also planning to set up a zoo management committee comprising civil society representatives and experts and would empower it to run the zoo efficiently,” he said, adding that the Landhi/Korangi zoo would be upgraded and new animals would be brought in.
Regarding the police investigation, he said orders for it would also be issued within a few days. He said he had great affection for animals and had always had a number of animals as pets.
“I have a licence to keep animals. Right now, I have flamingoes, various bird, dog and cat species at my home. They are looked after well,” he said.
Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, who suspended the zoo chief, was not available for comments.