After much condemnation and protest, the Lahore Safari Zoo has thankfully called off plans to auction 12 lions from its ever-growing pride to private buyers. The auction was planned for Thursday this week and had drawn condemnation from the WWF, which urged authorities to instead rehome them with other government wildlife facilities. Reports reveal that now the zoo has decided to speed up work to build two new enclosures for the lions.

The Lahore Zoo is currently home to 29 lions, six resident tigers and two jaguars. The deputy director of the zoo continues to maintain that the main reason for holding the auction was a lack of space; but that is not a justification that holds any weight. While it is good to see that the auction will not be taking place anymore, it is unfortunate to see how some are still unable to grasp why something of this sort is unethical. The deputy director of the zoo has clarified that the auction was not cancelled because of growing criticism, and added that the zoo can always hold another auction if the lions breed more and they run out of space once again.

The global animal rights group PETA has welcomed this decision of building new enclosures for the big cats, however, activist groups are also aware that this is just a stop-gap measure. As long as the zoo continues to breed wild animals in captivity, it is only a matter of time before it finds itself in a similar position of having too many animals.

What is needed is an end to such captive-breeding programs and instead the focus must be on protecting animals in their natural habitat. In order for that to happen however, both demand and supply factors need to be addressed. This idea that keeping exotic wildlife animals as pets is considered to be a status symbol in our society merits serious introspection. These animals can not be sold off as mere objects only to exist as trophies in someone’s house.