Their videos had gone viral in January
Dr Frank Goëritz, the head veterinarian at Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, has finally been given permission to travel to Pakistan for the health inspection of the four elephants at Karachi zoo and Safari park.
The decision was announced by the Sindh High Court on September 21.
The vet was due to arrive in Pakistan earlier this year but the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation had blocked the health assessment and raised concerns over the way the funding was gathered for his visit. KMC has now agreed to allow the inspection and agreed to pay his fee.
The Sindh High Court has, however, ordered that the fee should be shared between the petitioners, Advocate Owais Awan and the Pakistan Animal Welfare Society, and KMC equally.
The petitioners will reach out to the vet and hire his services, while KMC will ensure that the expert is “given full cooperation”. The hearing has been adjourned till October 27, 2021.
Earlier this year, videos of the elephants surfaced and it showed that they had broken nails, cracked tusks, swollen legs, and damaged feet. Following this, an international animal rights group, the Pro Elephant Network, called for emergency medical assistance. KMC had, however, claimed it had treated them after applying petroleum jelly to their feet.
Free The Wild, a UK-based animal rights organisation, offered to send international experts for their health inspection but KMC withdrew its permission at the last minute.
The KMC was accused, in a petition filed in March end, of neglecting the four elephants at Karachi Zoo and the Safari Park, keeping them chained in small enclosures (compared to international standards), and denying them medical care. The elephants, identified as Malika, Sonu, Noor Jehan, and Madhubala, were stolen from the wild in Tanzania and brought to Pakistan 11 years ago.
The claim was, however, denied by KMC officials and they remarked that the elephants are “perfectly healthy” and in “excellent shape”.
Abuse of animal rights became a topic of discussion among Pakistanis after the plight of Kaavan, the sole elephant at Islamabad zoo, was highlighted by activists and social workers. The Islamabad High Court ordered authorities to move all animals out of the Marghazar zoo because of the frequent mistreatment of animals. Kaavan was flown to a Cambodian sanctuary for retirement.
Since then, many activists have resisted and criticised Pakistan’s attempt to import more elephants, claiming that the animal is not native to the country so it lacks the facilities to provide proper care to them.