Our zoos are more prosperous than our cities. The zoo residents keep gamboling about in their cages beaming with health and vitality. On the contrary, the city inhabitants keep wobbling about the city streets with sickening debility. The zooists are guaranteed regular meals by the government. The citizens are guaranteed nothing of the sort. The zoo animals must be fed by the government. The citizens must feed themselves or die. Our citizens visit the zoos not for fun, but to take a jealous look at the culinary affluence of the immigrants from the jungle. If we can afford accommodation and food for the animals, cant we afford the same for our poor Pakistanis? But we prefer baboons and cockatoos, snakes and tigers, crocodiles and elephants, etc to our Pakistani brethren. The zoo water is thicker than blood. Once a haggardly-looking, underfed Pakistani boy accompanied his father to a Pakistani zoo. They wandered from cage to cage. Suddenly, the meal bell sounded. The zoo waiters started tossing food into the cages through the cage bars. The animals started devouring the food maddeningly. The boy was despondent. Jealousy started nibbling at his innards. Father, cant I be one of those monkeys? he longingly asked his father. I asked my father the same question 50 years ago, at this very spot, replied the father wistfully. The animals in our zoos are our moral responsibility. We must look after them till death do us part. But we must not allow them to multiply at will. Maternity must be exiled from our zoos. The food for the female animals must be laced with anti-pregnancy pills. The unborn animals must not be permitted to be born. When an animal dies, the vacuum must not be filled by an imported substitute. The boy, who yearned for a place in the zoo, must be kept in mind as a replacement. When there isnt sufficient food for all, some must die so that the rest could live. Some of us must starve so that our zoos could flourish. According to a news item, we are planning to have more zoos in the country. This is a very crafty political stratagem. Unemployment is rampant in the land. Since we cannot give our young men jobs, we have decided to give them fun and entertainment by way of compensation. When a young man has nothing to do, he must visit the zoo. If our unemployed young men were not tempted into zoos, they might take to the roads. And our recent history tells us that two road agitations have already destroyed two governments. Only animals can pull us out of the agitational abyss. The Lahore zoo is located in the best part of the city. But the zoo visitors come mostly from the worst parts of the city. The worst must pay homage to the best. The zoo has the Governors House, as one of its neighbours. Zoos are generally located outside the cities. But we have located the Lahore zoo in the best part of the city. We have a reason for it. We want our animals to live close to the Governor. It should give them a strong feeling of security. The ordinary citizens must not live close to the Governor. It must breed in them a feeling of vanity. The main entrance to the Lahore zoo has a huge signboard, which reads: Save wildlife. Since our food resources are limited we cannot have wildlife without sacrificing a part of our civil life. Nowhere in the huge city do we come across a signboard, which reads: Save civil life. The civil life can go to the dogs. But we must not let the animals go to the dogs. Our zoo animals are luckier than our citizens. The animals are guaranteed a full-stomach during their citizenship of the zoo. Their slavery has blessed them with a complete freedom from want. Our citizenship of Pakistan has guaranteed us nothing. Being generally underfed, most of the Pakistani visitors to the Pakistani zoos are sickly-looking creatures. The zoo animals, on the contrary, are well-fed things. They seem to mumble inaudibly to the visitors: Set us free. We can feed ourselves in the jungle. You fools, why do you starve yourselves by feeding us? n The writer is an academic.