Last Animals Removed From Notorious Zoo in Pakistan

'Dancing Bears' Suzie and Bubloo head to a new life.

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Male bear Bubloo
Male bear Bubloo was raised as a dancing bear.


The zoo in Pakistan which was once home to “the world’s loneliest elephant” Kaavan has closed its doors for good.

Himalayan brown bears Suzie and Bubloo were removed from the zoo this week by global animal welfare organization, FOUR PAWS. They were the last two animals at Marghazar Zoo. The bears were transferred by plane from Pakistan to the Al Ma’Wa for Nature and Wildlife animal sanctuary in Jordan.

For years before they arrived at the zoo, the animals had performed as dancing bears. To prevent them from hurting their handlers and spectators, they had almost all their teeth removed, according to FOUR PAWS. 

Veterinarians had to perform emergency surgery on 17-year-old Suzie in August because she had a badly infected chest wound likely due to a recent tumor removal. In addition, they found that the bears had serious behavioral issues due to years of abuse.

“The bears have coped well with the transfer and we’re all excited for them to start their new lives in species appropriate facilities at Al Ma’Wa for Nature and Wildlife. They will finally be able to receive some much needed care to work with the behavioural issues that have developed after years of suffering,” Hannah Baker, head of communications for FOUR PAWS, tells Treehugger.

“Today sees the start of a new chapter for Suzie and Bubloo in a more natural home where they can finally be allowed to be bears.”

About the Zoo

Dr. Marina Ivanova feeds Suzie at Marghazar Zoo.
Dr. Marina Ivanova and female bear Suzie in Marghazar Zoo. FOUR PAWS

Located in Islamabad, Marghazar Zoo was originally opened as a wildlife sanctuary in 1978. It was later converted into a zoo.

The facility has been in the news in recent years due to poor conditions. According to FOUR PAWS, more than 500 animals have been reported missing. In just the last four years, more than two dozen zoo animals have died, including six lion cubs.

The Islamabad High Court ordered the closure of the zoo in May 2020, but that wasn’t enough to save two lions. In July, footage circulated of two lions with a fire in their small enclosure at the zoo. Handlers had set the fire in order to try to force the lions into their transport boxes. Both big cats died as a result of smoke inhalation, FOUR PAWS reports.

The animal welfare group has been working with Pakistan's Ministry of Climate Change and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board with financial support from American businessman and journalist Eric S. Margolis. Since August, they have evacuated more than 30 animals from the zoo, including wolves, monkeys, deer, rabbits, and the famed elephant Kaavan.

“After years of efforts from many parties, the final closure of the gates represents the end of a chilling period," Baker says.

"Sadly, too many animals were not able to be saved but we are optimistic that Suzie and Bubloo, and of course … Kaavan, will now be able to live full lives with the species appropriate care and facilities they deserve. This is the happy story we all so desperately needed after this year.” 

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