Inquiry committee to investigate accusations of Karachi Zoo director extorting money
A three-member inquiry committee has been formed to investigate the complaint of two animal food contractors who accused the zoo’s senior director of extorting money from them.
The inquiry committee directed the zoo’s senior director and Safari Park to provide all the records related to the complaint filed on Wednesday, April 5.
The committee will complete the inquiry and send the report to KMC authorities with recommendations.
Animals at the Karachi zoo continue to be fed the bare minimum food after their supply was cut on March 21 over a fight about unpaid bills to the animal food contractors.
In letters addressed to the administrator of Karachi Municipal Corporation on March 23, two contractors responsible for the animal food supply accused the zoo’s senior director of extorting money from them.
The letters obtained by Aaj News state that the zoo’s senior director, Khalid Hashmi, is demanding 25 percent of the unpaid bills from the contractors and that the zoo’s former director, Raza Abbas, had also extorted money from them.
“We have submitted an unpaid bill of Rs8.2 million to your department and despite continuous requests, the bill is not cleared,” wrote Mahmood Enterprises, one of the contractors who supplied food each month.
The other contractor, Bilal Construction Co & General Suppliers, wrote that they are owed Rs34.6 million in unpaid bills.
The letters say that the zoo has been providing food to the animals at the same rates from three years ago, but the suppliers are now refusing to provide food on credit.
The contractors suspended the food supply on Tuesday, March 21 following a warning. In a letter addressed to the administrator of KMC, the contractors warned that they would cut the supply if not paid.
“It is a request, to release our outstanding payments immediately and we have submitted a few applications in this regard as well. If the payments were not cleared, we won’t be able to supply food for animals from March 21, 2023,” the letter read.
After the supply was cut, the animals were left to starve.
When Aaj News asked Zoo Director Khalid Hashmi about the allegations, he said that it was all propaganda and the contractor was trying to malign him. Khalid Hashmi was suspended for negligence in 2021 over the death of a white lion.
Hashmi claimed that the animals were being fed properly and there were no issues with the quantity of food or diet plan.
To verify this claim, Aaj News asked a zookeeper if this was true. “The news about the lack of food is true,” he said. “We’re supposed to provide the food to the animals according to their diet plan, but there are some issues in the quality and quantity.”
The Karachi Zoo has faced other crises in recent months. Many animals and birds have died due to the negligence of the administration.
“There are a few animals who need to feed fresh meat every day,” sources at the zoo said, adding that KMC’s finance department has been tasked with paying the bills.
Moreover, the Four Paws International team is expected to visit Karachi soon to diagnose and treat Noor Jehan the elephant who has been unwell.
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