The two lions who died while being transferred from Islamabad’s Marghazar zoo to a farmhouse in Lahore died of suffocation, confirmed the post-mortem report on Saturday.
A day earlier, the Kohsar police had registered a case against caretakers of the two lions.
The case was registered under Section 5 of the Animal Act 1990. The law punishes people for killing any animal in an unnecessarily cruel manner. Those convicted under the law must pay a fine of Rs200 and can be imprisoned for up to six months.
The FIR says that the caretakers beat the pair with sticks and lit a fire in their cage to make them unconscious, rather than using a tranquiliser.
A video of the caretakers igniting a fire in the lion’s cage has been shared on social media too. The negligence of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board is also being investigated in the case.
The Ministry of Climate Change has formed an investigation committee in the case too.
Wildlife laws were violated, says the post-mortem report. It indicated that the lungs and stomach of both the big cats had swollen.
The lions suffocated and died during the transfer, the report said, adding that an attempt was made to save them but they could not survive.
A pair of lions died while being transferred from the Islamabad zoo Mohiuddin Private Breeding Farm in Lahore, the wildlife authorities confirmed on Thursday. The lion and lioness were being shifted from the Marghazar zoo on the May 22 orders of the Islamabad High Court.
The lion and lioness were both four years old when they were brought to the zoo in May 2016. They were brought from Lahore Safari Park as part of the bird and animal exchange programme between the Capital Development Authority and the Punjab government.
After the incident, the World Wide Fund for Nature decided to cut ties with the Islamabad wildlife board for the time being.
“The WWF-Pakistan condemns the ill-treatment of the lion kept at Islamabad Zoo and has expressed its disappointment to the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and hopes that those who are responsible will be brought to justice for this repulsive act,” it said in a statement on Thursday.
There are many examples where zoos have supported the conservation of endangered species and have brought them back from the brink of extinction. But there are many issues related to animal welfare in captive facilities in Pakistan that need attention, it said, adding that it has offered support to help improve the environment for animals in Pakistan.