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Amid illness, death and ageing inhabitants, City zoo faces animal exchange woes

While the zoo has some animals, such as hippopotamus, hyenas, gaur, in excess, it has only two lions, one of which is ailing. Its lone zebra died in 2017

January 22, 2023 11:30 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:08 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

A heavy rush of visitors in Thiruvananthapuram zoo in this file photo.

A heavy rush of visitors in Thiruvananthapuram zoo in this file photo. | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

The city zoo that is in the eye of the storm following deaths of spotted deer and black buck owing to tuberculosis has another problem on its hands. Even as old age and illness take a toll on zoo inhabitants, leaving at least some enclosures empty, the count of some animals far exceeds its optimal capacity.

The number of hippopotamus, hyenas, gaur and some other animals is in excess of the zoo’s optimal capacity. A few reptile and birds species, including water birds, are in plenty. The hippos, for instance, have been segregated for long to keep a lid on their numbers.

Star attractions

Animals that are in excess could be exchanged for those that the zoo is keen on acquiring to improve its animal collection. The zoo now lacks popular attractions, such as zebra, giraffe and jaguar. It has only two lions, one of which is ailing. Its lone zebra died in 2017, and giraffe much before. Only two of the seven anacondas remain.

Introduction of lions, zebra, giraffe, and macaw will add star value to the animal collection, and attract more visitors to the zoo.

The zoo also faces space constraints. Though categorised as a large zoo, the facility is located on a mere 36 acres of land in the heart of the city. Of the four tigers left in the zoo, only two are out in open enclosures; the rest, including a white tiger, are housed in a closed enclosures.

Exchange plan in limbo

Animal exchange, however, has been sluggish in recent years. “A proposal to hand over hippopotamus from the city zoo to the Greens Zoological Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Jamnagar has not made any progress. The zoo insists it wants zebras in return for the hippos. However, the Greens centre does not have any zebras. Handing over the animals on a bank guarantee is not a feasible option,” says Zoo Director S. Abu.

However, zoos such as Pilikula in Karnataka and Vandallur in Tamil Nadu added a number of animals to their collection last year, with the Pilikula getting animals from the Greens centre and a donation for development of enclosures. Against this backdrop, the city zoo too needs to get its act together, say officials.

At the same time, it is pointed out that an authority be set up to take decisions on which animals to acquire and which ones to give away instead of relying on zoo director alone for such decisions.

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