In 2020, Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad closed its doors to the public after the Islamabad High Court directed the officials to move all its occupants to sanctuaries abroad. The place was shut down after its inadequate practices and woeful condition of animals drew international condemnation. Nevertheless, nearly two years after the closure of the facility, the authorities are planning to transform the site in a bid to develop unique learning experiences in a digital setting. In other words, Pakistan is all set to open its first virtual zoo in Islamabad.
According to the reports published by leading media outlets, Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Chairperson Rina Saeed Khan, Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed, and architect Naeem Pasha recently visited the defunct zoo to discuss the options for its revival in compliance with the High Court order. During the meeting, the concerned authorities decided to utilize two-thirds of the 10-hectare enclave for public entertainment, while one-third of the land will be reserved for a rescue and rehabilitation centre for animals.
The virtual zoo in Islamabad will reportedly feature animatronic models of animals and a visual museum that will help children learn about different wildlife species and the significance of preserving their freedom. The visitors will also be able to enjoy informative 3D shows every evening along with watching documentaries and movies.
Since no animals will be held captive at the location, the facility is likely to become one of the best tourist attractions in Islamabad.
“As 25 acres are too much for the rescue and rehabilitation clinic, it has been decided to use two-thirds of the land for public use and one third for the clinic. We will treat injured animals and release them into the wild. We have two bears but they cannot be released in the wild as one of them is deprived of ears and the second one lacks teeth,” the IWMB chairperson told Dawn. “As we cannot put animals on display, there will be a digital display of animals so that our children could have knowledge of them. IWMB member Imrana Tiwana is also working on it. We have been collaborating with the CDA and soon PC-I will be approved,” she added.
Another national publication reported that a meeting has been scheduled at the CDA headquarters to discuss the concept plan of the innovative facility. In addition, the authority has set a target date of six weeks to start the construction of the virtual zoo in Islamabad.
What Led to the Closure of Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad?
Established in 1978, Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad welcomed approximately a million people every year.
The exceptionally designed enclave housed a multitude of animals, including lions, leopards, bears, wolves, monkeys, as well as the only Asian elephant in Pakistan. In addition, it was ideally located next to Japanese Children Park, which is one of the famous parks in Islamabad, drawing a large number of visitors every weekend.
However, the tragic state of animals in the zoo sparked international controversy after the malnourished Asian elephant, Kaavan, was relocated to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia following the years-long efforts of animal rights organizations and more prominently, Oscar-winning American actress and singer Cher. The 35-year-old bull had been living in Pakistan since 1985 and had been dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant.”
In May 2020, Islamabad High Court ordered for all the occupants of the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad to be shifted to wildlife sanctuaries across the world. Thus, three weeks after Kavaan’s departure, two Himalayan bears named Bubloo and Suzie were also flown to a sanctuary in Jordan.
While many animals were able to find new homes following their unfortunate stay at the zoo, it was reported that two lions and an ostrich had died during the move.
Why Are Virtual Zoos Important?
The up-and-coming virtual zoo has the potential of becoming one of the places for children in Islamabad. Like other educational and recreational facilities of its kind across the world, this futuristic enclave will provide the younger generation with an opportunity to learn about wildlife in great detail without disturbing the animals or their natural habitat.
Instead of holding animals captive in cages that are several times smaller than the minimum space these beings require to roam around, the authorities will utilize the latest technology to create showstopping animatronic models and virtual shows to depict these species in all their glory. It is also worth mentioning that virtual zoos don’t require to hire caretakers for their occupants or spend money to feed them, making them relatively cost-effective for the government.
The virtual zoo will hopefully open sometime later this year.
So, what do you think about this initiative? Let us know your thoughts and comments about the top places to visit in Islamabad by dropping an email at email@example.com.
In the meantime, you can also check out our guide on the best tourist attractions in Islamabad and learn all about the Asian Leopard Preservation Zone established in the majestic Margalla Hills National Park.
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