Zoos are plagued by a vet shortage.
Veterinarians are forced to relocate abroad in search of greater professional opportunities because there is no service scale for them.
The lack of veterinary experts leaving zoos in search of better opportunities abroad has further decreased the quality of life for the enthralled animals, whose health was already in danger owing to a lack of healthcare services in zoos.
Although the government requires aspiring veterinary doctors to before joining Punjab Wildlife, the graduated vets are not ranked in terms of seniority due to the lack of a service structure, which has led to dozens of senior doctors with plenty of experience to begin leaving the country in the hopes of better career prospects.
According to Dr. Babar Saleem, a former veterinarian at Punjab Wildlife who is now employed at a zoo in Qatar, “The zoos in the province do not have any service structures for veterinary doctors as a result senior doctors have no incentive to work for the zoo once they have gained enough experience therefore they choose to move abroad.”
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According to sources, Punjab Wildlife currently has 14 conventional veterinary doctor seats available, however more than half of those positions are unfilled as a result of veterinarians quitting their professions to pursue higher education abroad or for other personal reasons.
Ashiq Ahmed Khan, a wildlife conservator, called on the government to establish a service structure for veterinary doctors in order to stop the exodus of vets to other nations. “If you fail to formally acknowledge the seniority of veterinary doctors and also deny them a raise, better job facilities, and job security, then it is no surprise that so many doctors are abandoning their posts and leaving the country,” he claimed.
The fact that several doctors from Lahore Zoo alone have recently emigrated to Canada, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia in search of a better future has only served to increase Khan’s concerns.
Deputy Director of Punjab Wildlife, acknowledged the lack of a service structure for veterinarians in an interview with the Express Tribune.
However, he added, “We do have a policy whereby 17th grade veterinary doctors are promoted to the 18th grade after ten years of service and to the 19th grade after twenty years.
Hasan stated that, aside from the improvised service system, no efforts had been taken to date to train the veterinary professionals working in the zoos.
Given Hasan’s affirmation, Khan, the wildlife conservator, questions if significant upgrades to the zoo’s infrastructure can be made without spending money on veterinary training. “Upgrading zoos in order to meet international standards entails more than just adding new animals and birds. Additionally, it implies that the overseeing authority must value training people responsible for maintaining the animals’ health equally, he argued in an interview with The Express Tribune.