Zoo ill-prepared to deal with emergencies

Guards have a wireless set, a whistle to distract animals

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:55 am IST

Published - September 24, 2014 07:59 am IST - NEW DELHI

Picture shows a white tiger staring at the youth, minutes before it mauled him to death at the Delhi zoo on Tuesday.

Picture shows a white tiger staring at the youth, minutes before it mauled him to death at the Delhi zoo on Tuesday.

The incident of a white tiger mauling a man who fell inside its enclosure at the Delhi zoo has exposed the lack of preparedness of the authorities to deal with emergency situations.

As per the norms, a guard is posted at the enclosure of all ferocious animals like tiger, lion, hyena, jackal and panther. But the guard does not have any equipment to deal with an emergency situation. The only thing that he has is a wireless set and a whistle with which he is supposed to distract an animal in case of an emergency.

Tranquilizers not loaded at all times

“There are tranquilizers for use in emergency situations but it takes 10-12 minutes to load it in a gun. We do not keep them ready at hand or give it to all the guards,” said a source at the zoo.

By the time, a zoo official could get ready with a tranquilizer gun to take control of the animal it would already be too late. This is precisely what happened on Tuesday afternoon.

No water in moat

The guard sent an emergency message to others in the zoo and they tried to divert the animal’s attention but by the time they could have used a tranquilizer, the damage had already been done and the animal was back inside its cave.

The Delhi zoo also flouts the enclosure norms meant for terrestrial animals who can jump. As per the “Barrier Designs for Zoos” laid by the Central Zoo Authority, enclosure for a Tiger should have a wet moat. But there was no water in the white tiger’s enclosure. On being asked about the same, a zoo official said that they do not keep water in the moat because clean water is not available to them.

“Enclosures with greater depth permit animals to keep a safe distance from the visitors and are always preferable,” read the Guidelines for Enclosures.

Height of wall near moat not adequate

The height of a moat of an enclosure where a terrestrial animal is kept should be 7.5 metres, including a depth of 5 metres. However, according to the Central Zoo Authority, the height of the moat was 4.4 metre, the Delhi zoo authorities on the other hand claimed it to be 6.06 metres.

Trees pose a threat

Also, there are trees inside the enclosure and the animal can easily climb them and jump outside. On being asked about this, zoo officials said that they have been planning to reduce the height of trees for a long time but haven’t been able to do it.

The dimensions and the area of any enclosure should be decided after considering the various factors mentioned above as well as the topography and naturalistic features of the site identified for constructing the enclosure.

The zoo authorities are claiming that the construction of enclosures has been done keeping in mind all the standards.

CCTVs not installed in enclosures

There are closed circuit television cameras in the zoo but only from the entry up to the director’s office. In 2008, a proposal to install CCTV cameras at the enclosure of ferocious animals like tiger, lion, bear, hyena was proposed but has not been implemented so far due to legal hassles.

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