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Going once, going twice… Pakistan lions up for auction

A Pakistani zoo is auctioning a dozen of its 29 lions to private buyers to free up space

A Pakistani zoo is auctioning a dozen of its 29 lions to private buyers to free up space.

A Pakistani zoo will auction a dozen lions to private collectors next week to free up space for a pride that continues to grow.

Lahore Safari Zoo now has so many big cats that their lions and tigers have to take turns entering the paddocks, said Tanvir Ahmed Janjua, the zoo’s deputy director.

“Not only will we free up more space here, but our spending on meat to feed them will also decrease,” he told AFP.

The zoo is currently home to 29 lions, and officials are planning an August 11 auction to sell 12 of them, between the ages of two and five.

There are also six tigers and two jaguars.

Conservationists oppose the sale, with environmental group WWF saying the creatures should be moved to other established zoos, or breeding females spayed or given contraceptives.

“Exchanges of animals and donations between zoos are a widely accepted practice,” the organization’s Uzma Khan told AFP.

“Once an institution like a zoo puts a price tag on a species in the wild, it promotes trade, which is counterproductive to conservation,” she added.

Keeping lions, tigers and other exotic animals as pets is not uncommon in Pakistan and is seen as a status symbol.

Lions are seen in a wooded area at the Lahore Safari Zoo

Lions are seen in a wooded area at the Lahore Safari Zoo.

Wealthy owners post pictures and video clips of their big cats on social media and 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 just anyone can participate in the auction.

Janjua said buyers must be registered with provincial authorities and show they have the resources to provide proper care and shelter for the creatures.

Veterinarian Muhammad Rizwan Khan told AFP that a first attempt to auction lions last year failed because potential buyers did not have the necessary documentation or licenses.

Nouman Hassan, who has been violated by authorities in the past when he was filmed leaving his tiger on a leash in Lahore, plans to participate.

“I will definitely try to buy two to three lions,” he told AFP, adding that the auction was a good way to diversify the gene pool for private collectors who already owned a big cat.

  • Animal collector Nouman Hassan, seen here with his pet tiger on Aug. 4, says he will 'definitely try to buy two to three lions'

    Animal collector Nouman Hassan, seen here with his pet tiger on Aug. 4, says he will ‘definitely try to buy two to three lions’

  • Conservationists have expressed concern over the sale of the lions

    Conservationists have expressed concern about the sale of the lions.

With little legislation to ensure animal welfare, zoos across Pakistan are known for poor facilities, but the Lahore Safari Zoo is considered one of the best, covering over 200 acres.

In April 2020, a court ordered the only zoo in the country’s capital to be closed after poor facilities and mistreatment of the animals were revealed.

The facility had been internationally condemned for treating an Asian elephant named Kaavan, who was later airlifted to Cambodia in a jumbo project led by American pop star and actress Cher.

Vet Khan said the animals at Lahore Safari Zoo received the best possible care – something that was reflected in their fertility.

“They experience a good life in captivity with us,” he said.


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© 2022 AFP

Quote: Go Once, Go Twice…Pakistani Lions Auctioned (2022, Aug 6), Retrieved Aug 6, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-pakistan-lions-auction.html

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