On November 23, 2016, four baby crocodiles went missing from the Nisargakavi Bahinabai Chaudhary Zoo in Akurdi, Pune. With no lead yet on the disappearance, the forest department plans to meet zoo authorities on Monday to discuss the matter. The State Zoo Authority will also send a letter to the zoo asking them to submit a report.
"We suspect that the reptiles were stolen. Investigations are underway," said an official from Pune Forest Department (Territorial) on the condition of anonymity.
Last year, eight crocodile babies were born of which four died and the remaining four, officials suspect, might have been stolen. The issue has raised serious questions over the safety of animals in the zoo that are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Senior Official Sanjay Thakare from State Zoo Authority (SZA) said, "We have received information regarding the four crocodile babies that were allegedly stolen from the zoo and will ask the authorities to submit a report on the same." Currently, there are nine crocodiles lodged in the zoo.
The Nisargakavi Bahinabai Chaudhary Zoo has been in the news for the wrong reasons over the past couple of months. Last November, 25 snakes died in the zoo. A committee of experts was formed to look into the matter. The report that was submitted highlighted several lapses including insufficient number of staff.