Video Of Old, Sick Lion Wasting Away In Zoo Causes Wave Of Controversy Online

Andrea A.

Conditions at Comilla Zoo in Bangladesh have begun to concern visitors after an 18-year-old lion called Juboraj was seen in a skeletal state earlier this year.

The big cat was recently filmed apparently suffering from severe malnutrition, unable to walk or stand. His bones clearly protruding as he lay in his cage, Juboraj was in clear need of medical attention that his keepers were not giving him.

[embed][/embed]Comilla Zoo doesn't get many visitors any more and remains despite the often harsh weather conditions the region faces. Over the last few years, the cages have slowly emptied as animals passed away, but stayed empty as new animals failed to materialize. Today, the zoo consists of the lion, 8 monkeys, 3 moor fowl and 3 deer, all of whom are in need of medical attention due to their poor living conditions.Despite his shocking appearance, Juboraj remained on display for visitors to see until very recently. One visitor filmed the big cat and posted it on Facebook, while others posted photos, which soon attracted attention and disgust from around the world.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

Members of the public, dismayed by the apparent lack of care being given to the former king of the jungle, went to the press to draw attention to his plight. TheDhaka Tribune, a local newspaper, decided to investigate the zoo and its staff.

A desperate situation for an elderly lion

Juboraj is a very old lion. Now 18, he is far past the age where most in captivity die, which is 14. The keepers at the zoo are therefore unable to know how to treat him properly to keep him comfortable.Exhausted and unwell, Juboraj stopped eating earlier this year. Now, he is dangerously thin, skeletal and so weak that he can barely move himself around his enclosure.

Source: Daily Mail

Because of his weak state, it is unwise to try and dart him for treatment. However, with him refusing to eat, any treatment they give him may be ineffective anyway.

Bangladeshi law unable to help

It's not unusual for animals to live longer than average in zoos and parks, where, in general, they are well fed, protected and able to be treated by veterinarians if they get ill.In many countries, zoos are even allowed to euthanize animals suffering from painful, age-related health complications.Some people have suggested that this might be the kindest thing to do for Juboraj, who to many seems to have given up on life and is clearly suffering.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

However, Bangladesh doesn't have any laws about what zoos can do when animals might have to be put to sleep due to age and euthanasia is badly regulated. This is why Comilla Zoo can't use this option.According to Dr Monirul H Khan at the zoology department of Jahangirnagar University, taking Juboraj from display and putting him in isolation is the best option, so that he can't be bothered or stressed by tourists, or pass on any illness to other animals.According to the latest reports from the Dhaka Tribune, Juboraj has been removed from display. Although vets have examined him, the possibility of moving the lion to treat him somewhere better equipped to deal with him doesn't seem to have been discussed.

Petition launched to shut zoo down

For many internet users, retiring Juboraj is not enough to excuse how he got into such a terrible state in the first place. His illness and skinny frame, despite his advanced age, is still a result of the 'care' he received at the facility. If they couldn't afford to keep him, they should have passed him on to someone who could.The other remaining animals are also reportedly living in terrible conditions and the zoo has been banned from acquiring new animals until they update their enclosures. Not having enough money to care for the few animals they have, this task is quite impossible.A petitiondemanding the closure of the zoo has already attracted 80,000 signatures, hoping to spare the animals living there from wasting away in slowly crumbling homes.

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