After the death of one-and-a-half-year-old Humboldt penguin Dory at the Byculla Zoo last month, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), issued an advisory to the central government on Thursday to ban the import of all animals from abroad to Indian zoological parks.
In a letter to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), AWBI highlighted the unsuitable habitats and deplorable conditions of zoos in India. “As an advisory body, the board requests CZA not to allow any Indian zoo to get more penguins or any other animals that may not survive in India. The board would also like to extend its recommendation to CZA regarding issuing permission to import animals to the country or to export any protected wild animals,” read the letter accessed by HT.
AWBI officials said the state of most zoos in the country were in appalling conditions. “We should not compromise on the welfare of animals for the sake of entertainment. The import of such animals does not serve any educational or conservation purpose. We should not imitate the west blindly by importing such animals if we do not have the facilities to preserve them,” said Dr Chinny Krishna, vice chairman, AWBI.
CZA had written to Byculla Zoo on October 28 requesting clarification on Dory’s death. However, officials refused to comment regarding the advisory on Friday.
The board asked CZA to form an expert committee to assess the facilities available to a particular species of animal proposed to be imported or exported if permissions have already been granted.
Regarding Dory’s death, the advisory said, “These penguins cannot be kept in what is essentially a baby pool and deny them their natural behaviours. The numbers of Humboldt penguins have been dwindling and they are also a threatened species listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ‘Red list’.”
Meanwhile, a city-based animal welfare group Plant & Animals Welfare Society - Mumbai (PAWS) wrote to secretary-general of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and director general of IUCN Headquarters, both at Switzerland. “We request you to not to allow any Indian zoo to get exotic animals especially a species like the Humboldt Penguin which cannot adapt to the Indian climate. Kindly keep a watch on import and export of animals listed under CITES and IUCN from India,” read the letter.