In view of retiring staff, zoo hires on contract | delhi | Hindustan Times
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In view of retiring staff, zoo hires on contract

The recent incident of a tigress jumping out of its enclosure at the National Zoological Park in Delhi has brought forth the issue of deployment of inexperienced staff for animal care. Zoo authorities, however, continue to deny this as a reason behind the recent spate of incidents.

delhi Updated: Mar 31, 2011 02:13 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

The recent incident of a tigress jumping out of its enclosure at the National Zoological Park in Delhi has brought forth the issue of deployment of inexperienced staff for animal care. Zoo authorities, however, continue to deny this as a reason behind the recent spate of incidents.

On March 21, a white tigress had been able to land into a small open enclosure from its cage. “The regular handler was on leave and that tigress is known for jumping quite high. Had the contractual labourer been experienced enough, he would not have let the tigress into the small open enclosure,” sources said.

Earlier, in the second week of March, an employee had been injured after a cobra bit him. In January, an animal assistant was seriously injured after a lion bit off a chunk of his right hand.

“In recent months, the zoo authorities have started putting inexperienced persons both in the zoo range and animal section. (So) if the keepers tell about their problems, the new officials do not appreciate it or perhaps, do not care about it,” sources added.

Spread over 20-odd beats, there are about 75 enclosures for nearly 1,200 animals, birds and reptiles in the Delhi zoo. Over the years, there have been no new recruits as zookeepers and assistant zookeepers even though people have been retiring regularly. This shortage has prompted the zoo authorities to go for contractual labourers.

However, Riaz Khan, zoo curator (education), said, “There is no question of calling anyone ‘inexperienced’. Even our contractual labourers have been in service for more than five years now.”

“Moreover, the deployment of staff from one beat to other is a continuous internal process always. But we ensure that there is at least one experienced person between two beats,” Khan said. “It is only during emergencies that we sometimes deploy persons from one beat to another.”