Legal Correspondent

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and all big and small zoos not to undertake breeding of animals beyond the number specified by the CZA in a directive in 1995.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justice C.K. Thakker, gave the direction on a petition filed by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The petitioner, bringing to the court's notice overcrowding of animals in zoos, said that at present there were 159 recognised zoos, comprising 19 large, 12 medium, 27 small and 101 mini ones. As on March 31, 2004, the total animal population in these zoos was 28,607 and as on March 31, 2005 the figure went up to 41,235.

The CZA issued a direction to all zoos on February 7, 1995 on the number of prolific breeding species animals but it was not followed. The petitioner submitted that in view of the overcrowding of animals, five tigers and one leopard died of infection in the Ranchi zoo. While seeking not to permit any further breeding in zoos, the petitioner sought a direction to appoint experienced curator, veterinarian and laboratory assistant as stipulated in the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992.