Islamabad: The High Court has warned officials in Pakistan’s capital amid concerns over the welfare of wild animals, some of them rare species, at the Islamabad Zoo.

Islamabad Zoo is a 33-hectare facility in the Islamabad Capital Territory.

The Islamabad High Court has ordered a report from the Ministry of Climate Change, detailing whether the Municipal Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) is competent to run the affairs of the zoo.

Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court made the remarks on Tuesday while hearing a petition filed by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB).

The IWMB is seeking to take over the zoo’s administration from the MCI.

In its petition, the IWMB drew attention of the court towards a report of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), which said a marsh crocodile was being kept in deplorable conditions in the zoo and experts feared it might not survive if its environment did not improve.

During the hearing it was also brought to the court’s notice, and a deputy director of the zoo also admitted, that a black bear was living in deplorable conditions in the zoo, posing a serious threat to its life.

The zoo official admitted they didn’t have any alternative arrangements for stray dogs except to shoot them.

“We shoot down stray dogs on public complaints,” said M. Bilal, deputy director Marghzar Zoo.

A government counsel informed the court that the Ministry of Climate Change had prepared a summary and recommended to the federal cabinet to transfer the zoo to the IWMB.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah, of the Islamabad High Court, observed that marsh crocodile was a non-exhibit animal.

The condition in which the marsh crocodile was being kept in the zoo was indeed alarming, observed the court.

On this the deputy director conceded that the zoo management due to lack of funds was not in a position to take proper care of animal.

Justice Minallah remarked that animals had more rights than humans.

If something does happen to the crocodile, action will be taken against those responsible, he said.

The court held that while the management of the zoo conceded that it was not equipped to take proper care of the marsh crocodile, the federal government through the climate change ministry secretary was directed to hold a meeting with the representative of WWF-Pakistan, IWMB and the director Marghzar Zoo within three days.

Meanwhile, the judge directed the zoo administration to shift the animals to another zoo or sanctuary if funds were not available.

The court later adjourned the case until August 29.