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Mumbai: Predator, prey kept in the same enclosure at Byculla zoo

A mid-day reader, who visited the zoo on Tuesday afternoon, forwarded pictures of sambar deer and crocodiles kept in the same enclosure

It appears that authorities at the Byculla Zoo cannot differentiate between predator and prey, as they have kept sambar deer and crocodiles in the same enclosure.

Sambar deer maintain a safe distance from one of the crocodiles (circled) basking in the sun
Sambar deer maintain a safe distance from one of the crocodiles (circled) basking in the sun

While authorities claim that both the animals are used to each other’s presence and would be relocated to separate enclosures after the zoo is revamped, wildlife experts and animal activists feel keeping predator and prey in the same enclosure, despite having ample space, is ridiculous. They even pointed out that keeping animals of two different species in the same enclosure is against Central Zoo Authority guidelines.

Animal rights activist from NGO Plant & Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), Sunish Subramanian Kanju, said, “Officials might claim that both the animals have been staying together without any conflict for years, but I personally feel it is not right to keep them together when there is plenty of space in the zoo.

There are several animal enclosures that are empty, where the sambar deer can be shifted. In my view, the Byculla Zoo is violating all the laws and guidelines, and the CZA seems to be doing nothing about it.” The incident came to light after a mid-day reader, who visited the zoo on Tuesday afternoon, forwarded pictures of the two species being kept in the same enclosure.

“I was surprised to see a crocodile and sambar deer together. Considering that crocodiles prey on deer, it isn’t right to keep the two animals together. The deer appeared on high alert and were maintaining a safe distance from one of the crocodiles,” said the reader.

Expertspeak
A wildlife expert said, “I had witnessed a similar scenario when I visited the zoo a couple of years ago. When I checked with the authorities, they told me not worry about the deer, because the crocodiles were fed from time to time. In my view both the animals should be kept in different enclosures.”

The other side
When contacted, Anil Anjankar, the zoo director, said, “The sambar deer and crocodile have been staying in the same enclosure for many years, and both the animals are comfortable in each other’s presence. There won’t be any conflict. Once the zoo is revamped, both will be shifted to their individual enclosures.”

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