Last Arabian oryx at zoo dies
KARACHI, May 24: The Karachi Zoological Gardens lost its male Arabian oryx, the last member of the species left at the facility, which died on Thursday evening reportedly after it was shifted to a spacious enclosure.
Earlier, the animal was confined to a very small fenced area within a deer’s enclosure. A few days ago, the zoo lost a male wallaby reportedly due to shock it suffered when a dust storm hit the city.
“It’s shocking. We had shifted the lone animal to a big enclosure after tranquilising it. It regained consciousness after more than an hour and remained in stable condition for more than three hours.
“At around 5.30pm, it got panicked and violently hit itself against the fence and the wall many times before we could intervene,” said senior veterinarian surgeon Dr Kazim Hussain, currently posted as additional director of the zoo.
Internal and external injuries were believed to have caused the animal’s death, he added.
Answering a question about the animal’s apparently odd behaviour, Dr Hussain said it might be excitement or stress.
“However, what I can say with confidence is that there was no disturbance at the enclosure which had been improved according to the animal’s needs,” he said.
Dr Hussain rejected the idea that poor quality tranquiliser might have caused the animal’s death and said that the effects of a substandard medicine would have been very much evident within half an hour of its administration, which was not the case.
The lone surviving female of the species died in 2010. The female had been bought with a male oryx from a private farm in 2007. The female was pregnant at that time and gave birth to a calf the same year. Two more calves, however, were born in the following years. Of them, a male and a female aged around one year, died over a year ago when they ran in panic into the fence and suffered fatal injuries.
Her last calf that had grown mature gave birth to a baby over a week ago. Unfortunately, both the mother and the baby could not survive and were found dead in the morning within a space of three days.
According to sources, the mother had developed some infection while delivering the calf that also grew weak after its mother’s death and a lack of necessary care.
The Arabian oryx is listed endangered by the IUCN Red List. Native to the desert areas of the Arabian peninsula, oryx leucoryx (Arabian oyrx) were largely extinct in the wild by the 1970s, mostly killed by hunters. Various programmes for breeding in captivity were subsequently introduced and the species was reintroduced in the wild.
Prized for its beauty and grace, the vegetarian animal may survive up to 20 years in good conditions. Females give birth to a calf a year.