Roar of lions at Delhi zoo or shriek of crocodiles at Chennai park may excite visitors. But, for zoologists it shows a disturbing trend. Most animals are forced to live in ghetto-like conditions.
The stinging observation has come from the national body mandated to provide better life to animals in zoos, the Central Zoo Authority. It has found that some of the popular zoos are over-crowded.
India has about 165 zoos and nature parks of which seven such as the National Zoological Park or the Delhi Zoo are considered big and another 16 as medium. Half of the major zoos in India have the problem of over-crowding.
The National Zoological Park or Delhi Zoo has 406 wild animals in excess to its carrying capacity. Sir Peter Scott Nature Park in Jamnagar, Gujarat, has 554 extra animals. Bannerghatta Biological Park new Bangalore has around 450. And, Crocodile Park in Chennai about 2,035 crocks more than needed.
Ravi Chellam, director (research & conservation), Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, said: "Many zoos lack a scientific collection plan, which specifies the species to exhibit and the desired population size. Zoos in general allow unplanned breeding, which results in overcrowding."
"One zoo had 16 tigers in a big cage and another 12 leopard…The zoo directors were emphatic in claiming that they have turned solitary animals into a social being," said an expert, who was not willing to be quoted.
An official at Central Zoo Authority, however, explained that most of the popular zoos are within city limits without much scope for expansion and not many new zoos have opened in the last decade to relocate surplus animals.