15 zoos being shifted to locations conforming to guidelines

B.S. Bonal, Member-Secretary, Central Zoo Authority (CZA), New Delhi, on Monday said 15 zoos in the country were being shifted from their present locations to places that offered natural habitats for housing animals and birds, in accordance to the CZA guidelines.

Out of 500 zoos in the country, only 195 zoos that got CZA recognition were functioning; the rest had been shut down, he added.

Speaking at the inauguration of the All-India Zoo Directors’ Workshop, held on the theme ‘Zoos — window to biodiversity, organised by the CZA and hosted by the Mysore zoo here, Mr. Bonal said 90 per cent of the CZA-recognised zoos were controlled by the Department of Forests. There is a need for linkage between in-situ and ex-situ conservation, he added.

Mr. Bonal said animals from zoos which were “unfit” to function could be transferred to some other zoos that have natural surrounding for displaying them.

Indian zoos attract nearly five crore visitors annually. They play a key role in biodiversity conservation, spreading the much-needed awareness among visitors.

All zoos must function in accordance with the National Zoo Policy of CZA, Mr. Bonal said. The focus of zoos has shifted from entertainment to wildlife conservation; zoos must emphasise on providing enriching enclosures and premises and a forest-like ambience for visitors.

Inaugurating the workshop, Minister for Forests and Environment B. Ramanath Rai stressed the need for stepping up conservation efforts.

So far, conservation activities have helped improve the number of elephants and tigers in our forests. “Wildlife protection must be our prime agenda, and some serious thoughts are necessary to achieve our goals.” Commending the Mysore zoo’s conservation work, Mr. Rai said it [Mysore zoo] was one of the country’s prestigious zoos successfully playing the key role in biodiversity conservation.

Minister in-charge of Mysore district V. Srinivas Prasad suggested that steps be taken to facilitate more animal exchanges with foreign zoos for enriching animal collections.

Efforts should be made to bring a companion for Polo, the lone male gorilla at Mysore zoo, he added.

Presiding over the function was M.K. Somashekar, MLA, urged Mr. Prasad to ensure the handover of a plot of land belonging to the Mysore City Corporation where zoo visitors’ vehicles were parked.

This land could be repurposed to construct a multi-storeyed parking lot to ease constraints.

As the Mysore zoo, like the palace, sees a heavy tourist footfall, parking has become a problem that needs to be prioritised and addressed. As of now, the MCC has leased out the land to the zoo.

Earlier, Mysore zoo executive director B.P. Ravi explained the objectives of the zoo directors’ workshop.

Sandesh Nagaraj, MLC; Mahadev, zilla panchayat president; Vanita Prasanna, councillor; and R.S. Suresh, Zoo Authority of Karnataka Member-Secretary, were present.

Zoo directors from 32 zoos in 20 States are attending the five-day workshop organised for the first time in Mysore.

The workshop will cover many important topics for deliberation and take decisions for better management of zoos and develop zoos as the centres of conservation on biodiversity.

The workshop includes 18 national and three international speakers. Participants will visit the Mysore zoo and the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve as part of linkage between in-situ and ex-situ conservation.