A pair of lions died while being transferred from the Islamabad zoo to a farmhouse in Lahore, the wildlife authorities confirmed on Thursday.
The lion and lioness were being shifted from the Marghazar zoo on the May 22 orders of the Islamabad High Court.
Khalid Mohiuddin Wildlife Pvt Ltd was given the custody of the lions and they were responsible for their transfer.
The lioness died on the way to the farmhouse on Wednesday, while the lion died after reaching there. The deaths were reportedly due to negligence of the caretakers.
The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board has launched an inquiry into the “unprofessional” treatment of the animals and may also consider criminal proceedings against those responsible for the death of the lions, Gulf News reported.
A video surfaced of the caretakers igniting fire inside the enclosure of the animals and yelling to make them move in an attempt to force the big cats to step out of their cage.
Pakistan Wildlife Foundation Safwan Shahab said international law was not followed for the transfer of the lions and they died of suffocation from the smoke.
He said it is necessary to have an entire team, including a doctor, shooter and others, while transporting animals. The lions were weak, he said.
The wildlife department had earlier said that they can share more information after the postmortem reports are released.
The lion and lioness were both four years old when they were brought to the zoo in May 2016. They were brought from Lahore Safari Park as part of the bird and animal exchange programme between the Capital Development Authority and the Punjab government.
On the orders of the court, Kaavan, the sole elephant of the zoo, is being sent to a sanctuary in Cambodia.