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Pakistan zoo cancels lion auction and plans to expand instead – International News News – Report by AFR

A Pakistani zoo has canceled plans to auction 12 lions from its ever-growing pride to private buyers, saying it would create new enclosures for the big cats instead.

The auction, scheduled for Thursday, has been condemned by the WWF, which has urged Lahore Safari Zoo authorities to relocate them to other government wildlife facilities instead.

“The main reason for the auction was lack of space,” deputy director Tanvir Ahmed Janjua told AFP, adding officials had decided to speed up the construction of two new pens.

“Now that this issue is set to be resolved soon, there is no need for the auction to take place.”

Spread over 200 hectares, the Lahore Safari Zoo is considered one of the best in the country – where zoos have a reputation for disregard for animal welfare.

The Lahore facility is currently home to 29 lions, six resident tigers and two jaguars.

Zoo officials had set a reserve of 150,000 Pakistani rupees ($700) per cat – about the same as a cow – but hoped each cat would fetch about 2 million rupees at auction.

Keeping lions, tigers and other exotic wild animals as pets is not uncommon in Pakistan and is considered a status symbol.

Wealthy owners post pictures and video clips of their big cats on social media and rent them out as props for movies and photo shoots.

Janjua denied that opposition from animal rights activists led to the decision to cancel the auction.

“Should the lions breed more and we see that we run out of space again, we can easily hold another auction,” he said.

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