Main entrance of the zoo
|Location||Mall Road, Lahore,
|Land area||25 acres (10 ha)
|Number of animals||~1400|
|Number of species||~140|
|Annual visitors||3 million|
|Major exhibits||Elephant House, Giraffe House, Tiger House|
Lahore Zoo (Punjabi: لہور چڑیا گھر, Urdu: لاہور چڑیا گھر) in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, established in 1872, one of the largest zoos in South Asia. It is currently managed by the Wildlife and Parks department of the Government of Pakistan. Today the zoo houses a collection of about 1380 animals of 136 species. Lahore Zoo was the host of the fifth annual conference of SAZARC in 2004. The stated mission of the zoo is:
To carry out ex-situ conservation of species and to actively contribute to Pakistan’s International commitment in terms of the Convention on Biological Diversity in addition to provide excellent educational and recreational facilities.
Lahore Zoo is thought to be the third or fourth oldest zoo in the world. Vienna Zoo of Austria, established in 1752 as a menagerie, was opened to public as a zoo in 1779. London Zoo of England, established in 1828, was opened to public in 1847. The Alipore Zoo of India, established some time in the early 19th century, was opened to public as a zoo in 1876.
Lahore Zoo had its beginnings in a small aviary donated by Lal Mahundra Ram in 1872 to the Lahore Municipal Corporation. Over time the animal collection increased and the zoo expanded. It later began to take interest in conservation, education and research in addition to providing recreational facilities to the public. By 2010, the zoo was home to about 1280 trees of 71 species and 1380 animals of 136 species including 996 birds of 82 species, 49 reptiles of 8 and 336 mammals of 45 species.
The zoo was managed by the Lahore Municipal Corporation from 1872 to 1923, when management was turned over to the Deputy Commissioner of Lahore. Management was transferred to the Livestock and Dairy Development department in 1962, and then to the Wildlife and Parks department in 1982. Between its founding in 1872 and its turnover to the Wildlife and Parks department in 1982 there was very little development at the zoo. Since 1982, it has upgraded its exhibits, layout, and landscaping, and has become a self-financing organization.
A master planning, improvement and development project of 18 months duration was approved in on July 25, 2005. It was carried out by 'Zoo Maintenance Committee' and sponsored by Planning and Development Department of Government of Punjab. The project cost around 202.830 million Pakistani rupees and aimed for the improvement and addition of facilities.
Areas and attractions 
Animal exhibits 
- Fancy Aviary is as old as the zoo itself as it started as an aviary in 1872. The section houses a number of bird species, most of which are parrots, fowls, doves and pigeons and birds of prey. Other species housed are European rabbits, Indian crested porcupines, spur-thighed tortoises, Indian wolves, a wild boar and a jungle cat.
- Tiger House was constructed in 1872 for a few hundred rupees and renovated in 1987 at a cost of about 5.1 million rupees. It has seven rooms and two moats which currently house Bengal tigers and lions. A bear pit exhibits a pair and two cubs of Asian black bears. Other animals include a pair of leopards and a pair of cougars.
- Elephant House was constructed in 1972 at a cost of about 500,000 rupees. It has three rooms and three moats. It houses three endangered species endemic to Africa: a pair of hippos (named 'Raja' and 'Rani'), two white rhinoceros and a female African bush elephant (named 'Suzi'). Suzi was brought to the zoo in 1972 on its 100th anniversary.
- Giraffe House is home to a variable number of plains zebras and Dromedary camels, a pair of giraffes (named 'Twinkle' and 'Sunny'), two Bactrian camels and a llama. It also exhibits three species of flightless birds or ratites: emu, ostrich and Southern cassowary.
- Deer House contains more mammals than any other house in the zoo, including axis deer (Chital), blue bull (Nilgai), fallow deer, Indian gazelle (Chinkara), red deer, Sika deer, the near-threatened species of blackbuck and Mouflon as well as threatened species of hog deer, sambar and urial. It also houses red-necked wallabies.
- Monkey House gained popularity when a pair of chimpanzees were introduced in 1994 and gave birth to triplets. As of June 2010, only three chimpanzees remain. Other animals in the section include black-footed gray langurs, olive baboons, capuchin monkeys, rhesus monkeys and vervet monkeys.
- Crocodile Ponds are one of the more popular exhibits of the zoo. One pond houses two female gharials (locally called 'gavial'). Another large pond houses a variety of aquatic birds including great white pelicans, greater flamingos, mute swans and black swans. Another area is home to a European otter.
- Snake House is the serpentarium of the Lahore Zoo. It was closed in June 2007 when about 20 snakes died because of suffocation. After being renovated, it was reopened on April 30, 2010. The exhibit houses species including Indian cobra, Indian phython, Indian sand boa and Russell's viper.
Exotic flora 
Lahore Zoo has about 1280 trees of 71 species. Many of the exotic species have information boards to promote education. Some of these are listed below:
- Alstonia scholaris - locally termed Ditabark - native to South Asia
- Bombax malabaricum- locally termed Sunbal or Silk Cotton Tree - native to Himalayas
- Callistemon citrinus - locally termed Bottle Brush - native to Australia
- Dalbergia sissoo - locally termed Shisham - native to South Asia
- Delonix regia - locally termed Gulmohar - native to Madagascar
- Erythrina suberosa - locally termed Coral or Gul Nister - native to Burma
- Ficus benghalensis - locally termed Banyan - native to Bangladesh
- Ficus religiosa - locally termed Pipal - native to South Asia
- Ficus retusa - locally termed Bobari - native to Malaysia
- Kigelia pinnata - locally termed Gul-e-Fanoos or Sausage - native to Africa
- Livistona chinensis - locally termed Bottle Palm - native to China
- Mangifera indica - locally termed Aam - native to South Asia
- Mimusops elengi - locally termed Molsery - native to South Asia
- Pongamia pinnata - locally termed Sukh Chayn or Indian Beech - native to Himalayas
- Syzygium cumini - locally termed Jamu - native to South Asia
- Ziziphus zizyphus - locally termed Jujube - native to Himalayas
Safari park 
Lahore Zoo Safari was opened on January 21, 2009, a renovation of Lahore Wildlife Park (also called Woodland Wildlife Park) which was established in 1982. The Safari is located on Raiwind Road about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the Lahore Zoo. The species housed here include Indian peafowl, Bengal tiger, common pheasant, emu, lion, mute swan, nilgai, ostrich and silver pheasant among a few others. The wildlife park is now considered to be an extension of Lahore Zoo.
The Government of Pakistan turned management of the wildlife park over to the Zoo Maintenance Committee headed by the Chairman of the Punjab branch of the Wildlife & Parks department. Vice-chairman Tauqeer Shah said this transfer of control was due to poor previous management that was not working to improve the park. A ticket system was introduced in the wildlife park so that the Lahore Zoo Safari could become a semi-autonomous, self-financed organization.
Species list 
Public service 
Instruction boards, maps and sign boards are placed around the zoo for guidance and education. The zoo includes a mosque for Muslim prayers. In 2008, walk ways, the cafeteria, and public washrooms were renovated and umbrella benches, drinking water coolers and new waste bins were added as part of some basic infrastructure updates.
Camel rides and electronic kiddy rides are available for children. Lahore Zoo also has plenty of areas for visitors to picnic. A waterfall was created for visitors, and statues of various animals have been placed within the boundaries of the zoo.
The education officer of Lahore Zoo is Bushra Nisar Khan. The zoo hosts guided tours for school groups, as well as placing information boards about the animals and plants around the zoo. A touch table has been set up to let children to touch animal parts like skins, horns, feathers and eggs that they cannot otherwise see or feel. The zoo has also prepared brochures and posters about endangered species in Pakistan like Ganges and Indus River dolphin.
On September 5, 2009, Lahore Zoo celebrated the International Vulture Awareness Day and distributed posters regarding the importance of vultures in ecosystems. Reasons of sharp decline of populations of Indian white-rumped vulture were made known to local people.
In 2010, Lahore Zoo celebrated events like World Environment Day on June 5 and World Animal Day on October 4. In November 2010, Lahore Zoo started its first publication, a quarterly newsletter. It is said to be the part of the education and awareness programme.
Gift shop 
In 2005, a gift shop was opened in joint collaboration between Pakistan branch of WWF and the Lahore Zoo. Ali Bokhari, the marketing head of WWF-Pakistan, stated that the profit earned would be split in half between the Lahore Zoo and WWF-Pakistan. Lahore Zoo would make souvenirs from the profit which would be on sale at the shop, while the WWF would invest it on the conservation of nature in Pakistan. The products include shirts, mugs, plush toys, posters, caps and bags among many others.
Breeding efforts 
- Asian Black Bear: In September 2009, a rescued female was given to Lahore Zoo by World Wide Fund for Nature. Lahore Zoo was successful in breeding the species when twins were born in early January 2010. The cubs, however, went missing on 17 January.
- Chimpanzee: A pair (named 'Romeo', the male and 'Juliet', the female) were brought to the zoo in 1994. They gave birth to a male named 'Tinku' in April 2000, another female named 'Pinky' in 2004 and a female named 'Honey' in April 2005. In October 2004, the Wildlife Department of Pakistan told the Daily Times that the four-year-old 'Tinku' had died some time in early August from pneumonia. On September 17, 2008, Romeo died at the age of 21 from a prolonged illness.
- Hippopotamus: A 6 years old male hippopotamus was brought to the zoo on January 16, 1974. On July 11, 2006, zoo bought a 6 years old female to mate with the male that have been at the zoo for over three decades. An expert said that this was pointless because the male had passed its reproductive stage. There has been no breeding so far.
- Gharial: In November 2004, Lahore Zoo exchanged animals with Karachi Zoo including a male gharial. Lahore Zoo already had three female gharials and with a male, it could initiate a conservation attempt. The male was transported by truck to the zoo, but died the day after it was transferred. Currently there are only two female gharials at the zoo.
- Leopard: On 18 January 2006, zoo officials said that a seven-year-old female wild leopard was caught at Muree and brought to Lahore Zoo for breeding. However, it died about a month later on 21 February because of nervousness. On 5 April 2009, it was reported that 3 leopards (black panthers; one male and two female) purchased in February 2009 had to been returned because they had become sick. Currently Lahore Zoo houses only two leopards.
On December 8, 2010, it was announced that the administration of Lahore Zoo is planning to make Reema Khan, an actress, as the ambassador of wildlife in captivity. Current zoo director, Iqbal Khalid, told Dawn News that Khan will help create awareness among citizens about wildlife issues. It was also revealed, that Lahore Zoo will start renting exotic animals from other countries. This will give a chance to local people to learn more about different animals across the globe. Lahore Zoo plans to rent two Giant pandas from People's Republic of China. "Once it gets a sponsor, the zoo administration will submit a request to the Chinese government for the animal, which is popular around the world. Chinese officials will visit the zoo to inspect housing and health facilities for pandas," said Khalid.
Safety and security concerns 
On 21 November 1999, an Asian black bear killed an 18-month-old boy named Abdullah in the zoo. The child, who was with his parents, tried to shake hands with the caged animal. The bear pulled the boy into the cage and tore him apart. An angry crowd tried to kill the animal but the police intervened to bring the situation under control. Zoo officials blamed the parents for allowing the boy to touch the animal. On 8 January 2004, an attendant at the zoo was attacked by a red fox when its cage was left unlocked, causing a panic among visitors. On 9 April 2007, two stray dogs entered an Indian peafowl pen from a broken portion of a fence and managed to kill about 28 peafowl. This resulted in criticism as Indian peafowl is considered sacred in Indian subcontinent. On 10 May 2009, it was reported that a new born Macaw was stolen from the zoo. The zoo director said that someone from the zoo staff must have been responsible. On 17 January 2010, two Asian black bear cubs went missing from the zoo.
Animal deaths 
Lahore Zoo has been criticized for not having the level of medical facilities expected in a modern zoo. Zoo officials reported in April 2005 that three female black-footed gray langurs died due to cold weather the previous winter. In November 2005, a male mandrill and male puma died at the zoo. A female Asian black bear died in mid-February 2006. In September 2006, some animals at the zoo were diagnosed with tuberculosis, which can also be transmitted to humans, but early detection and treatment prevented an outbreak. In January 2009, a female giraffe was attacked by a plains zebra and died soon after due to injuries.
In October 2004 the Wildlife Department of Pakistan told the Daily Times that a four-year-old male chimpanzee had died in early August from pneumonia, but zoo management had not revealed this news to public immediately. In September 2008, another male chimpanzee died at the age of 21 from a prolonged unidentified illness.
Lahore Zoo received a pair of Bengal tigers from Belgium in 1992 to start their captive breeding program. In 1997, six Bengal tigers died from Trypanosomiasis at the zoo, and in 2006, four more became victims. In July 2007, two female Bengal tigers, one of which had given the zoo 19 cubs, died from same disease. In early May 2009, a 3 year old female Bengal tiger died after a cesarean section to take out her dead babies. In April 2009, a Bengal tiger gave birth to four In July 2009, a lion gave birth to two cubs but killed them by eating their heads. Director, Zafar Shah, said that the lion had been killing her cubs for the last three years and is a victim of cannibalism - a mental disease found in 5-6% of lions worldwide. At Lahore Zoo, there have been many births of Bengal tiger cubs who are deformed and do not survive long. In late 2010, the officials showed concern for the issue of inbreeding that might be the reason behind these deaths.
In early November 2010, Lahore Zoo received 53 falcons which were being illegally transported to Qatar from Benazir Bhutto International Airport. 16 falcons died due to heat strokes and other reasons. In April 2011, the zoo officials returned the remaining falcons to the wildlife department to be set free so that they can migrate to colder regions.
Smuggling scandal 
On 27 March 2009, two white Bengal tigers were brought into Pakistan from Indonesia without necessary import documents and sold to the Lahore Zoo. The sources said that trans-boundary movement of the rare and endangered species was controlled by the CITES and that a certificate of permission from CITES and permission from the Islamabad-based National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW) were both required before import of the animals. Lahore Zoo had neither. The director of the zoo, Yusuf Paul said the zoo had purchased two female white Bengal Tigers from supplier Mohammad Afzal of a Lahore-based organisation, Animal World, for 7.6 million Pakistani rupees.
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