KERALA

Zoo turning into a plastic dump

PLASTIC MENACE: Plastic waste dumped near the crocodile enclosure at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo. Photo: S. Mahinsha

PLASTIC MENACE: Plastic waste dumped near the crocodile enclosure at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo. Photo: S. Mahinsha  

G. Mahadevan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even though it is a plastic-free zone, the city zoo has turned into a huge dump for plastic items, including carry bags and PET bottles.

Zoo rules stipulate that any plastic item brought by a visitor be kept either in the cloakroom or outside the gate.

Exceptions are often made in the case of plastic feeding bottles and / or water bottles for very young children.

The white-uniformed zoo guards are supposed to be alert enough to prevent people from discarding plastic material near animal enclosure. In spite of this, many carry bags and bottles can be seen thrown near many enclosures.

On Friday afternoon, the zoo officials were alerted to a big plastic bag found in the middle of the lion enclosure.

The biggest plastic dump inside the zoo is perhaps the crocodile enclosure very near the exit point and opposite the pit displaying the spectacled caimans.

Sources in the zoo told The Hindu that all the waste materials that are gathered from near the `upper garden' of the museum compound get dumped inside this enclosure by zoo staff themselves. This includes organic waste, dead leaves, plastic bags and crushed plastic bottles.

Scavengers

"The zoo does not have a system for separating its non-animal wastes. Over time the crocodile enclosure has turned into a big garbage pit," a zoo official said.

Since the plastic dumped here include remains of food packets brought to the museum compound by visitors, the danger of these plastic articles being carried inside animal enclosures by crows and other scavengers was very high.

Over the years, animals had died after ingesting plastic carry bags. Zoo director P.N. Unnikrishnan said a unit of the Kudumbasree was asked to regularly remove the garbage from inside the zoo premises. "This particular place has become a dump yard for the past 20 years. It will take some time to remove all that," he said.

However, sources in the zoo disputed this claim and said that garbage was dumped on a daily basis inside the enclosure. They said that even if there was a system for removing garbage, plastic waste should never get dumped inside the zoo perimeter.

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