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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Patiala zoo in state of neglect

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times   Patiala, January 29, 2014
First Published: 22:18 IST(29/1/2014) | Last Updated: 22:22 IST(29/1/2014)

Time and again the mini zoo authorities here have been making tall claims of upgrading and renovating it. However, with no sign of concrete plan in line the upgradation of the zoo seems like a distant dream.

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According to the information available, the mini zoo, is officially a deer park. The conversion of this deer park to mini zoo was put on hold, because as per the norms of the Zoo Authority of India, a deer park can be converted into a mini zoo only after the inclusion of three carnivorous animals.

At present, the park has only a civet and a crocodile with the third carnivorous yet to come.

The present state of the zoo depicts a sorry state of affairs as till date the fencing of the zoo has not been completed. Instead of being a tourist spot it has been turned into a den for drug addicts and miscreants as there is no police surveillance  as the zoo is located on the outskirts of the city.

During week days, only a handful number of people visit. The main entrance to the zoo is full of potholes and is strewn with waste wrappers and polythene bags. 

The road inside the zoo campus needs repair and  is full of big pits. Most of the benches and swings too are lying broken.

Sources revealed that in 2000, a foundation stone was laid to construct a cage to house a panther pair, which has not been brought so far. Now the cage has been divided between Indian peafowls and Assamese monkeys.

A caretaker said: "The present infrastructure has already started to crumble in the wake of paucity of funds and is rapidly turning into a junk yard."

The forest department has been planning to upgrade the mini zoo and get more carnivorous animals to attract visitors. But the reality speaks otherwise.

A recent survey by HT revealed that the zoo has only one small motor for providing water to over 200 antlers including black bucks, spotted deer, hog beer and others.

The butterfly section that was inaugurated in 1988 has also been lying in state of neglect as the entire structure has been shattered.

Most of the cages have huge beehives. The interpretation-cum-audio visual centre of wildlife in the zoo has been locked for the past two years as its caretaker was transferred.

Five quarters which were earlier used by guards and other staff members have been abandoned and declared unsafe.

Repeated attempts to contact the chief wildlife officer Ashwani Kumar remained futile as he remained uncommunicative.

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