An unromantic end to the Anarkali legend
The Zoo acts in haste to benefit from the extra meat

By Naqeeb-ur-Rehman

KARACHI: Anarkali may have been a legend at the Karachi Zoo, where she entertained and endeared herself to thousands of children and animal lovers, but her end was swift and somewhat grotesque.

Last Days of Anarkali

Like her namesake who also met with a tragic end, in this case the tragedy continues long after Anarkali the 65-year-old elephant passed away. Her death was mourned by hundreds of Karachiites, who remember her at one time or another in their lives.

We learnt about Anarkali’s death at around four in the evening although she died at 7:50am on Monday. When I reached there, I found the dead body completely surrounded by tents. Even the crevices in-between the tents were stuffed with grass and plants so as to block the view completely.

When the Director of Karachi Zoo, Mansur Qazi, was approached to give details, he said that since Anarkali is being de-skinned, photographers and press people would not be allowed to photograph the carcass.

When I insisted that I wanted to take the photograph and asked as to why the body was being kept hidden, the director agreed to accompany me to where the elephant was being taken apart. He still said that he would not allow photographs since other media channels had been refused. However, when we got there, sensing too much media presence, the director backed off and returned to his office.

Later on when asked, why the whole process was being done so secretly, the director said that his staff was trying to preserve the body parts and the body was too badly covered in blood to be photographed.

According to zoo officials who asked not to be named, the flesh of the elephant will be consumed by other animals on the premises, while apparently the skin will be stuffed to be kept at the zoo’s museum.

When asked why the zoo made no effort to procure a replacement for Anarkali, who was the lone elephant for the past many years and was also approaching its average age limit, Mansur Qazi said, “Karachi zoo had floated several tenders, but since elephants are a rare species, we were not successful.”

The living conditions of animals at the zoo are already eyed with a lot of suspicion, disgust and disdain. The death of Anarkali and the shocking fact that she will be dinner for a lot of other animals in the zoo for some days to come leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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