Sick, injured animals on display at zoo

Ill-treated animals, insensitive visitors, uncomfortable enclosures, and lack of trained staff andĀ  volunteers shocked the four-member team of NGO workers from PAWS who privately inspected the premises

Workers of the well known NGO Plants and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) have their claws out. An inspection of the Byculla Zoo undertaken by their four-member team has revealed that authorities and caretakers have been shirking their duties, not looking after the animals, and even retaining injured and sick inmates in their enclosures for display.

MenagerieĀ of Misery: The pictures, taken by members of the
inspecting team from PAWS, tell a sorry tale of neglect and cruelty. The
lioness lay in a corner of its enclosure, unresponsive and weak; the
caretaker kept poking the crocodile with a stick, and spots on the rhino's
body indicated an untreated skin ailment

Appalled by the sorry state of the zoo and the complete lack of consideration evinced by authorities for animals, PAWS has written a letter to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), demanding strict action be taken against the officials responsible for its maintenance.

Speaking to MiD DAY, PAWS secretary Sunish Subramaniyam said, "After inspecting the Byculla Zoo along with other members on Saturday, we have come to the conclusion that the authorities who have been assigned the job of maintaining the zoo are utterly apathetic to the well being of the animals. We noticed that some of the animals were weak and injured, but they hadn't been withdrawn from their enclosures for treatment. This is gross injustice against the animals, and against the law. We have written a letter to CZA and AWBI authorities, demanding that the zoo be shut down, if the situation is not improved. Enclosures should be spacious, and vegetated, to give animals the feeling that they are in their own habitat, and not caged captives. We have asked the CZA to de-recognise the Byculla Zoo, in the event that these rectifications are not made."

Untrained staff
The team was also shocked to note the complete absence of qualified and trained staff.
Visitors were harassing the animals, unhindered.

"When we went near the enclosure of a lioness, we found that she was extremely weak. No cave or vegetated environment had been provided for her. She didn't even have water bowl to drink from. A few visitors approached her cage and started teasing her. But there was no caretaker or trainer in sight to stop them," added Subramaniyam.

The letter also reiterates the need for the zoo authorities to appoint qualified, educated and well-trained staff members, and rope in citizen volunteers who are sensitive to the needs of the animals, and can help control crowds. It added that water should be provided at all the enclosures, and changed every two-three hours, to prevent the animals from catching infections.

The Other Side
Repeated attempts to contact the zoo authorities for comment were futile.

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