ISLAMABAD: Postmortem reports of four of the eight nilgais that died recently at Marghazar Zoo have found that they were poisoned.
Eight nilgais died at the zoo between December and January, and their cause of death was initially attributed to severe cold due to a lack of timely measures to protect them. However it has now emerged that four of these animals died of ‘severe endotoxic shock’, according to medical reports.
Sources also said anothertwo died from fighting, as their bodies bore marks of trauma. The post-mortem reports of the remaining two have not been finalised as zoo officials did not adopt the post-mortem protocol; it is said that these two nilgais died of the cold.
Sources said rivalry and politicking among zoo officials could be why the nilgais were poisoned, perhaps to rid officials of good repute seeking to streamline zoo affairs.
Zoo director has written to FIA seeking investigation into the animals’ deaths
According to documents available with Dawn, the Metropolitan Corporation (MCI) has asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to look into the deaths of the four animals.
A letter dated Jan 25, written by newly appointed Zoo Director Rana Tahir to the director of the FIA’s Islamabad zone, stated:
“Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad is managing and administrating the Zoo of Islamabad, where suddenly four Nilgais Male of adult age had been expired of severe Endotoxic shocks as per postmortem reports of NVI, NARC.”
It added that the reports identified elements of poison found in the postmortem report, therefore it is essential to investigate all aspects, particularly any criminality. The letter said the MCI has also started its own civil inquiry.
Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz confirmed to Dawn that the matter has been referred to the FIA.
He said that according to the postmortem reports, four nilgais died of endotoxic shock and added that the incident could have resulted from rivalry between zoo staff.
Everything will be clearer during the inquiry, said Chief Metropolitan Officer Syed Najaf Iqbal. “If it is established that zoo officials poisoned the animals, strict and exemplary action will be taken against them.”
He also said the poisoning could have resulted from dirty politics among zoo officials, as strict action was recently taken and some elements were affected by reforms.
“Just in the food and feed contract, we have cut the project’s estimated cost by Rs6 million,” he said.
Aside from the alleged poisoning of the nilgais, it was also noticed before the animals died that zoo staff did not set up proper shelters to protect them from the weather.
The zoo has been a neglected MCI directorate for the last few years, and over two dozen animals including zebras, ostrich, lion cubs, a bear, urial, deer and more have died there.