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Delhi Zoo suppressed deer deaths in May; complaint lodged

The shifting of the deer took place when Delhi was reeling under searing heat; the complaint also states that the guidelines of the CZA mentions that transportation and shifting of animals should be avoided during extreme weather conditions.

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2018 21:49 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,Delhi Zoo,Central Zoo Authority
A group of spotted deer at Delhi Zoo in New Delhi, India.(HT File Photo)

Delhi Zoo officials allegedly didn’t record the deaths of six spotted deer in the first week of May , according to a complaint lodged with the union environment ministry and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) which oversees all zoos in India.

The new complaint adds to the rap sheet of the capital’s zoo that is the subject of a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi high court, and which includes not recording deaths, illegally capturing animals from the wild to replace the dead ones, and administering the animals medicines past their best-by date.

Renu Singh, the director of Delhi Zoo, said she wasn’t informed about the deaths and that she has asked the concerned officials to explain why.

The complainant, Gauri Maulekhi, an animal right activist has demanded an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the deaths. According to the complaint (a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times) at least six spotted deer died in the zoo in the first week of May when the zoo authorities tried to shift them from one enclosure to another.

“I am writing to you to bring to your attention the gross neglect and mishandling of animals at the National Zoological Park, Delhi (Delhi Zoo), which led to the death of six spotted deer within the zoo premises,” says the complaint, which was lodged on May 30. A copy was sent to environment minister Harsh Vardhan.

“To further compound the illegality, the zoo administration purposely omitted to place these deaths on record,” the complaint further states. The complaint says that the shifting took place in the presence of Zoo director Singh, veterinary officers AK Bhawal, Manoj Kumar and keeper Abdul Habib.

Singh says she didn’t know: “I have sought an explanation from the officials concerned. I have asked the officials to explain why I was not informed about the deaths, what precautions were taken while the animals were being shifted, whether these deaths were properly documented and whether post mortem were done following all guidelines. I am yet to receive any reply. If there are any lapses strict action will be taken.”

The National Zoological Park, the only zoological park in the country to come under the direct administration of the Union government, has already come under the scanner of the Delhi high court after the PIL.

According to that petition, the alleged irregularities include suppression of news of animal deaths, illegally capturing animals to replace the dead, expired drugs being administered to animals, illegally procuring Ketamine and portions of a rhino horn going missing. The PIL was filed based on at least eight reports by the CZA and other agencies filed since 2016. The PIL mentions a Hindustan Times report from May 18, 2017, on how the National Zoological Park accounted for the highest number of animal deaths among large zoos in the country in 2016-17.

The shifting of the deer took place when Delhi was reeling under searing heat; the complaint also states that the guidelines of the CZA mentions that transportation and shifting of animals should be avoided during extreme weather conditions.

“I request that the CBI be directed to enquire into this matter and the involvement of the zoo administration in these and numerous other irregularities brought to light previously,” says the complaint.

First Published: Jun 02, 2018 21:49 IST