A pack of stray dogs killed all 31 blackbucks — five males and 26 females — in Kanpur zoo in a feeding frenzy that was detected in the early hours of Sunday.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav suspended the zoo director, K Pravir Rao, and five others for laxity which allowed the dogs to sneak into the enclosure of the blackbucks, an antelope species, late on Saturday night.
Blackbucks are classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A few hours before his suspension, Rao said the dogs had entered the enclosure after crossing the zoo boundary wall, which had collapsed during the rains last year and was being repaired.
The barbed wire placed as an interim measure to prevent humans from entering the zoo proved no match for the dogs, especially with no one watching.
According to Rao, the dogs managed to sneak in because watchman Sher Singh, a contractual employee, had left his post without informing his reliever. Singh is among those suspended.
Rao said a forest guard spotted two dogs inside the enclosure and shot them around 3.30am. A third dog seen in the enclosure in the morning was also shot. “The number of dogs that entered the enclosure could not be ascertained,” he added.
Zoo officials found partly eaten bodies of the blackbucks. Three of the blackbucks had survived with injuries, but died later.
The CM directed the divisional commissioner of Kanpur and the municipal corporation to launch a drive to remove stray dogs. He also ordered a probe.