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Penguin Paranoia

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
By Sonali Telang

With the unveiling of exotic penguins in the Byculla zoo last week, crowds have gone berserk to catch their first glimpse. Reportedly more than 30,000 unruly crowd have paid visit to the monochromatic species which resulted in violating the security norms around the penguin exhibit. In such case, activists have raised concerns over the management by the zoo.

Last weekend turned out to be a turmoil for the penguin exhibit when visitors were seen climbing the walls and breaking the barricades, eager to click selfies with the penguins. Seeing the chaotic crowd, the zoo authorities closed the gates at  4 pm, two hours before the scheduled closing time. However, after facing resistance from the crowd, the staff was forced to reopen the gates.

“As per the provisions of Recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009 with (Amendment) Rules, 2013, every zoo shall endeavour to regulate the movement of visitors in the zoo in such a manner that zoo animals are not unduly disturbed, stressed or provoked and the zoo shall be closed to visitors at least one day in a week. The noise created by the visitors would affect the health of the animals particularly the penguins which are not exposed to large number of people.
The exposure of visitors has to be gradually increase so as to monitor the behaviour of the animals,” said Godfrey Pimenta from Watchdog Foundation.
Every zoo, as a safeguard against the unregulated access of visitors to the zoo and zoo animals being subjected to injury, pilferage and predation, shall design appropriately the barriers along the boundary of the zoo in accordance with the standards issued by the Central Zoo Authority in this regard.

“While visiting the Humboldt Penguins enclosure we were shocked to notice that the swimming pool rocks at two places have developed cracks. The water may seep into the walls making them fragile in the coming days. The facility being built at whopping cost of Rs.64 crores, develops cracks  within two days  of Penguins Exhibits being thrown open to public. This is slap on the face of BMC Administration which has hurriedly open the said facility without first checking whether the said enclosure meets the required standards. Has the BMC obtained the fitness certificate that the said facility meets the required standards,” added Godfrey Pimenta.

While the zoo authorities are boasting over these exotic species, the condition of existing animals still remains bad. One of the elephants of Byculla Zoo which was also kept open for exhibition seemed miserable with several injury marks on it. “It appeared that the elephant being badly injured on the head and tail, is not being treated. It is appalling to see huge tax payers money devoted to the Humboldt Penguins acquisition and on the other side, the condition of other animals have just worsened. Why the injured animals like Elephant is not treated with antibiotics, antiseptics etc. The Veterinary Doctors of the zoo, are not extending the necessary medical care to the injured animals.”

Watchdog has claimed that the Contractor Highway Construction Company has not only submitted fake documents to get the global tender but also has compromised on quality of workmanship of the Penguins exhibits. Meanwhile, the BMC decided to lay down some rules to regulate discipline for the visitors to avoid rowdy behaviour by them in the future.

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