Karachiites join lion, camel in their birthday joy
KARACHI: A large number of children and women turned up at the Karachi zoo to celebrate the annual ‘zoo day’ and the birthdays of Raju the lion, who turned 20, and Gudu the Bactrian camel, who became a year old on Sunday.
A cake was cut near Raju’s cage to celebrate his 20th birthday. The normal age of a lion in captivity is between 16 and 20 years and Raju has spent over a decade and a half in the facility.
He has almost completed his normal life cycle, but he looks younger than his age. He is in good health and very energetic and hopefully will stay in the zoo for many more years to entertain the visitors.
Gudu celebrated his first birthday. Born in the zoo last year, the baby camel has a very friendly countenance. Even when he is sitting at the farthest end of the cage, he comes running when his handlers call him. The camel had been raised on goat milk as his mother’s milk had dried up after delivery.
Besides the two birthdays, Bengal tigress, Rachael, also caught the visitors’ attention. The lioness has become so friendly with her handlers that some of them were even seen feeding her meat by hand while sitting nearby and patting her head. She was inducted in the zoo around eight months back. The birthday party featured many colourful events. Students of about 15 to 20 schools participated in a quiz show about wildlife and drew sketches of animals.
A cultural show was also part of the celebrations. A number of stalls set up on the sidelines added to visitors’ festive mood. A stall had different reptiles and snakes on display. At one stall the visitors who could donate for the zoo were being encouraged to touch or even carry a baby crocodile and get photographed with it. A stall was selling parrots, local as well as foreign, for over Rs110,000 a bird. At one of the stalls, children were having their faces painted.
Zoo chief Mr Bashir Sadozai told Dawn said that such activities helped increase people’s interest in wildlife. The zoo was an educational facility and children doubly enjoyed their visit to it because they could see the animals with their own eyes about which they only read in books. He said that efforts were being made to bring in more exotic animals like hippopotamus, rhinoceros, etc.
He said the Karachi metropolitan corporation chief Mohammad Hussain Syed who visited the zoo in the afternoon and distributed prizes among winners of quiz show and other events had announced that a fish show and a tortoise race would be organised at the zoo in a couple of months.
He said that over 80,000 people had turned up when a similar function was organised last year and today also the crowd appeared to be equal that number but an exact figure could be known on Monday when the data from entry tickets would be summed up.
Conservationists said that such activities were greatly helpful in increasing people’s interest in animals and creating awareness about wildlife but the volume of deafening music being played throughout the day could have been turned down. It would have offended the wildlife which was not used to listening to disco music in their habitat, they said.
Besides, they said, the organisers should have kept in mind that animals must have sufficient time for rest and they should not get stressed by the presence of a large number of visitors, some of whom were rowdy and teased animals.