Notwithstanding opposition by wildlife enthusiasts to keeping dolphins in captivity, the Delhi Zoo is exploring the feasibility of building a dolphinarium as envisaged by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
The dolphin exhibit or dolphinarium will be the part of the yet to be prepared master plan of the Delhi Zoo which would also include a multi-species immersion exhibit with elevated board walk, interpretation centre, food court, open air theatre and souvenir shop.
While majority of zoos have already submitted their master plans to the Central Zoo Authority and availed funds for infrastructure developments, the Delhi Zoo has plans to rope in a consultant to do the job to ensure global standards are maintained.
"We have floated expression of interest for a consultant or firm for the job. The master plan has to be worked out for next 20 years and the improvement works would be carried out over next five years," a senior Delhi Zoo official said.
As per CZA guidelines, the master layout plan of the zoo is a detailed landscape map of the existing site showing prevalent facilities and infrastructure and also the proposed developmental activities in animal display area and other areas for the better up keep of the animals.
The Delhi Zoo proposal says, "The plan will also incorporate feasibility and design of a multi-species immersion exhibit with elevated board walk as well as setting up a dolphin exhibit or dolphinarium in the National Zoological Park."
While declaring the government's plan to announce dolphins as national aquatic animal, Ramesh had earlier this year floated the idea of keeping the Gangetic mammals in captivity for public awareness in Delhi Zoo, which is spread over 76 hectares.
However, the idea had drawn flak from many NGOs like PETA and Animals Asia which feel that "Dolphins cannot cope with life in captivity. Torn apart from their families, most captive dolphins live to only half the age of wild dolphins. The chemicals used in tanks sometimes cause skin and eye problems."
The Gangetic dolphin is critically endangered. Highly sensitive and complex animals, dolphins are not genetically designed to live in small tanks, said PETA manager for special projects Dharmesh Solanki.