Animals in distress in zoos can relax a bit, as the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has decided to provide better homes (read designer) to animals with proper health care facilities.
In a proposal submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the CZA has asked for Rs 205 crore in the next five years to revamp animal care facilities and for research in zoos in India.
The major component of the plan (Rs 150 crore) is for providing better housing facilities for animals in the next five years. If all works well, the animals may have designer suites as the government has decided to hire School for Planning and Architecture, Delhi, for refurbishing major Indian zoos. "We are looking at improving the aesthetic image of the zoos with emphasis on overall improvement in living condition for the animals. Better housing is our priority," CZA Director, Dr BR Sharma, told Hindustan Times.
With better homes, the animals in a combo offer will have on plate more nutritious food. To ensure that this happens, the Nutrition Research Institute, Bareilli, will soon be asked to conduct a study on eating habits of animals in the confined areas and what can be offered to improve their health. There have been complaints of animals falling ill in zoos because of poor quality of food. One has to keep in mind the animal’s eating habits in the wild while serving food in zoos, explained an environment ministry official.
The new initiatives are not without sound scientific backing. The CZA has found that condition of animals in many zoos are not good, forcing it to derecognise as many as 10 zoos since July 2006 and 300 in the last 15 years. "We will not allow any new zoos till facilities for animals are more than adequate," Sharma said.
The emphasis on improvement in the present zoos will enable CZA to house more endangered species for the public viewing. Sharma said they want to provide access to people about wildlife not commonly available in public domain. So, the exotic animals on Discovery or Animal Planet may be available in zoos near your homes.
The CZA has also sought Rs 25 crore for research on captive breeding of animals, especially the ones facing threat because of poaching. Training of personnel is another aspect of the new initiative.