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The last two animals in the run-down Pakistani zoo move out when it finally closes


The Pakistani zoo, where the "loneliest elephant in the world" Kaavan once lived, has now closed for good after the last of the animals were brought to shelters overseas.

The Marghazar Zoo in the capital, Islamabad, closed its doors on Wednesday after Bubloo and Suzie, two Himalayan brown bears who had been in captivity there for 13 years, left.

The couple, both 17 years old, will now drive 11 hours to a shelter in Jordan to be cared for by the Princess Alia Foundation, founded by the king's eldest daughter.

It comes two weeks after Kaavan, a 35-year-old bull elephant, was brought from the zoo to Cambodia after a high profile campaign led by singer Cher and carried out by the animal welfare group Four Paws.

Bubloo, a Himalayan brown bear kept at Marghazar Zoo in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, was one of the last two animals to leave the zoo on Wednesday – when it finally closed its doors

Bubloo

Bubloo

Bubloo (left and right) was taken from the wild as a cub and raised as a dancing bear, where he was abused, including pulling out most of his teeth. He came to the zoo in 2007 at the age of four and has been there for 13 years

Suzie, another Himalayan brown bear, was also removed from the run-down zoo on Wednesday. The Pakistani judges ruled earlier this year that all animals should be taken away because the zoo could no longer care for them

Suzie, another Himalayan brown bear, was also removed from the run-down zoo on Wednesday. The Pakistani judges ruled earlier this year that all animals should be taken away because the zoo could no longer care for them

"Islamabad Zoo is now completely closed to both the public and officials," Saleem Shaikh, a spokesman for the Pakistani Ministry of Climate Change, told AFP.

"Both bears are being flown to a sanctuary in Jordan."

The Islamabad Zoo was established in 1978 on 10 hectares of land as a home to native species.

But it soon developed into a tourist attraction that welcomed animals from overseas, often donated as gifts.

Kaavan was donated to the zoo in 1985 by the then Sri Lankan leader to mark new economic ties with Pakistan.

Bubloo and Suzie ended up at the zoo in 2007, then four years old after being taken from the wild as boys and raised to be dancing bears.

The couple have been mistreated for years and have their teeth pulled out to prevent them from attacking their trainers while they are being beaten to make them dance.

In the past few years, concerns about her well-being had risen again after Suzie became infected after surgery to remove a tumor.

The zoo was also home to Kaavan, known as the "loneliest elephant in the world", who was freed two weeks ago after a year-long campaign led by the musician Cher (picture on the right in the zoo with Kaavan).

The zoo was also home to Kaavan, known as the "loneliest elephant in the world", who was freed two weeks ago after a year-long campaign led by the musician Cher (picture on the right in the zoo with Kaavan).

Kaavan, a 35-year-old bull elephant who was given to Pakistan by his native Sri Lanka in 1985, now lives in a spacious animal shelter in Cambodia

Kaavan, a 35-year-old bull elephant who was given to Pakistan by his native Sri Lanka in 1985, now lives in a spacious animal shelter in Cambodia

Kaavan (left) had his first contact with another elephant in more than three decades when he moved into his new enclosure, which is opposite a pen with another elephant (right).

Kaavan (left) had his first contact with another elephant in more than three decades when he moved into his new enclosure, which is opposite a pen with another elephant (right).

The infection left a large wound on her chest that surgeons in Pakistan were unable to close, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

Surgeons were eventually brought in from overseas and closed the wound after Suzie was in pain for months.

Dr. Amir Khalil, a four-paw medic who treated the bears, said Suzie was also malnourished as she had no teeth, which made it difficult for her to eat.

Bubloo now has an abscessive tooth that makes him aggressive, said Dr. Khalil, which is unusual for Himalayan bears.

Both animals also display "stereotypical behavior," indicating years of abuse, including moving back and forth – an indication of stress and boredom when kept in a cramped environment.

Khalil first visited the zoo in 2016 and described the conditions at the time as "poor". He added that a number of recommendations have been made but ignored.

According to his records, the zoo once contained 960 animals, but 500 "disappeared".

Founded in 1978, Marghazar Zoo closes its gates forever after the last of the animals are taken away. The zoo once housed 960 animals and is now being converted into a nature reserve

Founded in 1978, Marghazar Zoo closes its gates forever after the last of the animals are taken away. The zoo once housed 960 animals and is now being converted into a nature reserve

Workers from the Four Paws charity, which led the campaign to save the animals, prepare cages for the transport of Bubloo and Suzie, who are now 11 hours away in Jordan

Workers from the Four Paws charity, which led the campaign to save the animals, prepare cages for the transport of Bubloo and Suzie, who are now 11 hours away in Jordan

Dr. Amir Khalil has been working at the zoo since 2016 to arrange the care of the animals and ultimately oversee their transfer from Pakistan to other animal shelters

Dr. Amir Khalil has been working at the zoo since 2016 to arrange the care of the animals and ultimately oversee their transfer from Pakistan to other animal shelters

The brown bear enclosure will be closed after Bubloo and Suzie, the last two animals at Marghazar Zoo, were brought overseas to spend their days in better conditions

The brown bear enclosure will be closed after Bubloo and Suzie, the last two animals at Marghazar Zoo, were brought overseas to spend their days in better conditions

"Nobody knows where those 500 animals went," said Khalil, who said the rest were in a badly neglected state.

The judges in Pakistan eventually decided that the remaining animals should be taken abroad because they could not be properly cared for.

Two lions died during their move when zookeepers tried to pull them out of their pens by putting on burning haystacks. An ostrich also died on the move.

The authorities are now planning to expand the zoo into a nature conservation center.

With little legislation protecting animal welfare, zoos across Pakistan are notorious for their poor conditions.

In 2018, about 30 animals, including three baby snow leopards, died within months of a new zoo opened in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

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