OTHERS

Miscreants kill two Australian Emus in Mysore Zoo

Mysore Dec. 7. Miscreants throttled and hacked a pair of Australian Emus at the Mysore Zoo sending shock waves among the authorities.

This is perceived as a desperate attempt by a few disgruntled elements to wreck the plans of the present team, led by the director, Kumar Pushkar, and derail efforts to remodel the zoo.

Mysore Zoo has a history of such incidents in which animals have been targeted to sully the image of the management. The two Emus found dead today were perfectly normal till Friday night when the cage keepers observed them consuming food. No abnormal traits were observed in their behaviour till the time the cage keeper retired for the day. The zoo veterinary doctors, Khadri and Valandikar, received information in the morning that the Emus had died. On examination of the carcasses, they were shocked to find that sharp injuries were inflicted on the neck of one of the Emu while the other bird was throttled. The wound was deep.

Dr. Khadri told The Hindu that natural injuries caused by fighting had abrasions which displayed an irregular pattern. But in this case, the wound was caused by a sharp weapon. The wounded part did not display an irregular pattern and the cut was "neat." The other bird was strangulated, and no animal could cause such an injury in any fight.

One of the birds was 10 years old and the other was aged one. They were brought to the zoo under an exchange programme. The zoo authorities have filed a police complaint and the carcasses of the birds have been handed over to an outside agency to carry out the post-mortem to ascertain the cause of the death. The report is expected in a couple of days. Though shocked by the incident, zoo authorities refused to speculate on who could be behind the killings. Recently a wild pig was released from its enclosure and the animal was gored to death by the gaurs. Some zoo officials said there was a concerted attempt by a section of disgruntled elements to scuttle the efforts to remodel the Mysore Zoo and ease out Mr. Pushkar, who has lent a touch of professionalism to the zoo management, from his post.

While there can be no indisputable proof to corroborate the apprehensions, the rash of incidents and the sudden and mysterious deaths of animals reinforces suspicions being aired by a section of the officials and voiced by animal lovers and conservationists in the city. The Mysore Zoo had come in for criticism for poor maintenance a few years ago, but Mr. Pushkar brought in a sea change to the zoo affairs. He submitted a management plan to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and the Government.

The short-term changes are already being effected and this will dovetailed with long-term visions envisaged for one of the oldest and best-maintained zoo gardens in the country. The master plan envisages habitat improvement for animals, better facilities for visitors and introduction of modern zoo management techniques.

The CZA had expressed satisfaction over the changes being contemplated in the management of the zoo and had apparently promised more funds towards its maintenance. The zoo here was strapped for funds till recently but the financial situation has apparently eased.

Attention was paid towards the welfare of Class IV employees, the cage keepers etc., and the employees benevolent fund was hiked by roping in commercial bodies. New pairs of dresses were given to the zoo employees and modern management concepts introduced. Enclosures were improved and a tram introduced for the benefit of the public. New roads were laid while additional species were procured on exchange basis from other zoo gardens in the country.

Last week, the MLA, H.S.Shankarlinge Gowda, apparently swayed by a section of the disgruntled elements, staged a dharna seeking a "probe" into the affairs of the zoo. Animal lovers say such misguided and blatant political machinations can only harm the interests of the zoo.

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