Local authorities have discovered a luxury villa on the grounds of the city’s zoo, according to an unnamed official in the Mashhad prosecutor’s office.The official added that for the zoo owner, the building and not the animals had been the priority.
The owner of the zoo reportedly built a villa with a swimming pool and populated the grounds with a collection of wild animals for his personal amusement. He had previously complained about not having enough space to keep the animals.
The unnamed official rejected the claim by the owner, noting: “He has built a massive villa in the middle of the zoo compound with a swimming pool, and yet complains about not having enough space to accommodate big cats.”
According to the zoo inspector, the owner also built a wall around the villa, keeping everyone including the visitors to the zoo out. In effect, he created a private zoo for his own pleasure.
Asked why it had taken so long for the authorities to discover the villa, the official from the prosecutor’s office said: “That’s the problem. There was no supervision.” He added: “The person in charge of the zoo was an expert from the local environment office who only checked the animals once in a great while to make sure they were alive. They never investigated the cause of death of any of the animals.”
Mashhad’s Vakilabad Zoo is one of the largest in the country, but the authorities closed it down after the death of eight tigers under suspicious circumstances and the discovery of four animal skulls and seven tiger skins. The zoo owner has yet to comment on the situation.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]