17th December 2020 – Following the successful rescue of the now world-famous elephant Kaavan two weeks ago, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS managed to evacuate the last two animals of Marghazar Zoo, Himalayan brown bears Suzie and Bubloo, on 16 December. FOUR PAWS transferred the bears via plane from Pakistan to Jordan, where they will find a species-appropriate home at the sanctuary “Al Ma'wa for Nature and Wildlife” – run by the Princess Alia Foundation and FOUR PAWS. The departure of Suzie and Bubloo, means there are finally no more animals left in the zoo in Islamabad, which is finally closing its gates for good. Since August 2020, FOUR PAWS, together with Pakistan's Ministry of Climate Change, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and financially supported by American businessman Eric S. Margolis, has evacuated over 30 animals from Marghazar Zoo, including wolves, deer, rabbits, monkeys, and elephant Kaavan.
The two bears Suzie and Bubloo have endured years of suffering. Before they came to Marghazar Zoo, they were abused as so-called dancing bears. To prevent them from hurting their owner and spectators, both bears had almost all their teeth removed. The FOUR PAWS team also found serious behavioural issues in the animals. Vets had to perform an emergency surgery on 17-year-old bear Suzie back in August 2020, as she was suffering from a badly infected chest wound likely due to a recent tumour removal.
“After witnessing the departure of their fellow zoo inhabitant Kaavan, Suzie and Bubloo are also finally starting a new life. With their departure to Jordan, we can give the bears the medical treatment and care they desperately need. After almost four months of hard work in Pakistan, we are locking the gates of Marghazar Zoo once and for all. The last-minute cancellation of the bears’ export permits was a brief setback last week but thankfully the Islamabad High Court and IWMB ruled once again in favour of animal welfare. The transfer would also never have been possible without the support of the Pakistani community, as well as the financial help of American businessman Eric S. Margolis.”
Dr Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS veterinarian and head of the rescue mission
The history of Marghazar Zoo
The 28-hectare Marghazar Zoo was originally opened in 1978 as a wildlife sanctuary in the Margalla Hills in Islamabad but was later converted into a zoo. The zoo has been owned by Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan since its establishment. But, in the past four years, over two dozen animals have died at Marghazar Zoo, including six lion cubs. The zoo's poor keeping conditions have repeatedly made international headlines. Finally, in May 2020, the Islamabad High Court ordered the closure of the run-down zoo, but this was not soon enough to save two lions. In July 2020, shocking footage circulated of the lions fighting a fire in their small enclosure at Marghazar Zoo. Inexperienced animal handlers set the fire to force the big cats into transport boxes. Both lions died at the end of July as a result of smoke inhalation. The zoo received special attention for its most famous resident, the Asian elephant Kaavan, whom FOUR PAWS relocated to Cambodia at the end of November 2020.