State panel visits Katraj Zoo to review leopard escape incident - Hindustan Times
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State panel visits Katraj Zoo to review leopard escape incident

Apr 17, 2024 05:00 AM IST

During the two-day visit, the committee concentrated on analysing the event as well as inspecting the cages for structural integrity. The committee also interacted with forest officials regarding the incident

A five-member expert team set up by the Maharashtra Zoo Authority (MZA) visited Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj on Monday, April 15, and Tuesday, April 16, more than a month after the leopard escape incident within the Zoo premises.

On March 4, Sachin, an eight-year-old male leopard, escaped from its enclosure, where he was kept for quarantine and couldn’t be tracked for over 12 hours. (HT PHOTO)
On March 4, Sachin, an eight-year-old male leopard, escaped from its enclosure, where he was kept for quarantine and couldn’t be tracked for over 12 hours. (HT PHOTO)

During the two-day visit, the committee concentrated on analysing the event as well as inspecting the cages for structural integrity. The committee also interacted with forest officials regarding the incident.

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On March 4, Sachin, an eight-year-old male leopard, escaped from its enclosure, where he was kept for quarantine and couldn’t be tracked for over 12 hours. The zoo authority also did not inform the authorities about the incident including the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), police, and the forest department.

The zoo generally receives over 1,000 visitors daily and was open to the public when the incident occurred, triggering safety and management concerns about the administration. Later, the authority with the help of the RESQ Charitable Trust team managed to capture the leopard after 40 hours within the zoo promise.

Following this incident, the Central and state zoo authorities instructed the Chief Wildlife Warden of Maharashtra to conduct a review visit of the Katraj Zoo facility. On April 15, a five-member committee headed by District Forest Officer, MZA Lina Ade visited the Katraj Zoo and interacted with the zoo officials.

Speaking about the visit Ade said, “The committee reviewed the structural integrity of the cages to check if they are following the Central Zoo Authority’s guidelines. A detailed report of the entire incident will be prepared, and it will be submitted to the principal chief Conservator of the Forest, Maharashtra Forest Department within a week.”

Ade further said, “The committee members comprised retired IFS officer Anil Anjankar, who has vast experience in zoo management. Apart from that, a veterinary officer, a structural engineer, and a zoo curator were also present. They reviewed the zoo facility and the leopard enclosure, from their perspective and a command report will be prepared with the inputs of all the team members.”

During the two-day visit, the committee analysed the time at which the leopard escaped, whether the zoo remained open or closed until it was captured and the reason behind the leopard’s escape, mainly structural flaws of the cages.

The committee visited the forest official on Tuesday morning to understand their perspective on the said incident.

“The department does not have any direct involvement in this issue; however, we have provided all the information that was required,” said Mahadev Mohite, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Pune Forest Division.

Rajkumar Jadhav, director of Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park refused to comment on the committee visit.

Despite repeated attempts to contact, Shriram Shinde, curator of Wild Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WARRC) was unavailable for comment.

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