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Whistling torment for animals in zoo; Bengal govt to impose fine shortly

Poking animals with twigs and throwing stones at them is a regular affair at Kolkata zoo. The authorities have noticed that blowing shrill whistles to attract their attention is becoming popular.

kolkata Updated: Nov 28, 2018 17:03 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Alipore Zoo Kolkata,West Bengal
Feeding animals inside the Kolkata zoo is rampant despite restrictions imposed by the authorities. (Arijit Sen)

Plagued by visitors blowing whistles and horns in front of enclosures to attract attention of animals, the Kolkata zoo authorities have decided to come up with a list of specific ‘Don’ts that create disturbance and prohibit these activities including slapping a hefty fine.

The zoo, formally known as Zoological Garden, Alipore, is the oldest one in the country. It is one of the most popular city attractions that draws about 3 million visitors annually with a record 1.1 lakh visitors thronging the 18.81-hectare plot on January 1 this year.

While feeding animals, poking them with twigs and throwing stones at them have constituted favourite ways to disturb the animals, the authorities have noticed that blowing shrill whistles to attract their attention is becoming popular.

“Shouting and blowing whistles are mostly noticed in front of the cages of chimpanzees and other primates, who respond quickly. But not many are perhaps aware that this is extremely disturbing for animals. It is no less offensive than throwing stones,” a senior zoo official said on condition of anonymity.

Displaying cautions on boards have neither created awareness nor invoked fear of punishment among a section of visitors. (Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

State forest minister Binay Krishna Burman said the authorities have been witnessing for quite some time that merely displaying cautions on boards neither creates awareness against disturbing the animals, nor invoke fear of punishment among a section of visitors who have a habit of disturbing animals.

“Whistling is becoming a menace. We have decided to specify actions that will be considered irritating and disturbing for animals. We will slap hefty fine on violators,” said the minister.

Incidentally, the zoo has boards that say “Disturbing animals will attract penalty up to Rs 2,000 or imprisonment or both.”

To tackle littering, the authorities have decided to distribute jute bags so that visitors can pack their trash and drop the bags while leaving. Visitors have to keep a refundable deposit of Rs 30 for the bag while entering.

It will be mandatory for visitors to take a bag since most of them consume food inside the premises and many liberally litter the area.

Following a step taken by the Delhi zoo authorities, there is a ban on entering Kolkata zoo with edibles since October 1, 2009. But the authorities find it difficult to check each and every bag visitors carry.

“We are constantly reviewing our safety measures which include surveillance and monitoring during visiting hours,” said Kolkata zoo director, Ashish Samanta.

First Published: Nov 28, 2018 17:03 IST