A zoo in Pakistan has enraged animal activists after announcing it aims to auction a dozen of lions to private collectors to make a profit.
Lahore Safari Zoo currently owns 29 lions and wants to reduce its collection saying they can no longer afford to feed them.
Zoo officials say 12 lions aged between two and five years old will be sold to private collectors.
Animal rights campaigners have accused them of selling off the big cats like toys from a gift shop.
Deputy director of the zoo Tanvir Ahmed Janjua justified the zoo’s plan by saying: “Not only are we going to free up more space here, but our spending on meat to feed them will also go down.”
The price for one lion has been set as low as PKR 150,000 (GBP 553).
But another is expected to reach up to PKR two million (GBP 7,365).
Furious animal rights activists and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have tried to halt the sale.
They say officials should transfer the lions to other zoos and have their lionesses sterilised.
Uzma Khan of WWF stated: “The exchange and donation of animals between zoos are very accepted practices.
“Once an institution like a zoo puts a price on a wild species, it is promoting trade, which is contrary to conservation.”
PETA’s Vice President of Programmes Elisa Allen told Newsflash: “These big cats need to get out of this badly run zoo, where they’re kept in cramped enclosures.
“However, rather than sell them off like toys from a gift shop, Lahore Safari Zoo should move them to a reputable sanctuary where they can have a life together.”
Allen also added: “Selling them to private collectors means they may end up in an even smaller prison, kept by people who get a perverted ego-boost from “owning” a wild animal while denying them the ability to roam vast territories, seek out mates, or do any of the other things that come naturally to them.
“Lions and tigers suffer tremendously in captivity, both physically and psychologically, and if these species are to stand any chance of surviving, society must move away from breeding and imprisoning them and focus on preserving their natural habitats.”
As reported by media, citizens are allowed to keep animals such as lions and tigers in the South Asian Islamic republic.
As they are considered status symbols, the animals’ owners regularly share footage of their exotic pets on social media, and sometimes even rent them for movies and photo shoots.
Bidders willing to take part in the auction planned for Thursday, 11th August, must register in advance.
They must also prove they have the necessary resources to provide shelter and adequate care to these animals.
The Lahore Safari Zoo is regarded as the third or fourth oldest zoo in the world, after it was established in 1872.
It currently provides home for about 1378 animals of 135 species and spreads on a land area of 25 acres (10 hectares).
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Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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