37 endangered animals died at Mumbai’s Byculla zoo in a year, officials to now get otters, wolves | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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37 endangered animals died at Mumbai’s Byculla zoo in a year, officials to now get otters, wolves

Byculla zoo loses 31 black bucks; officials say most deaths because of natural causes while activists blame zoo’s substandard facilities and environment

mumbai Updated: Aug 14, 2017 09:46 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Byculla,endangered animals
Protected under schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, 31 black bucks (25 female and six male), a female Himalayan bear, two female rhesus macaque (old-world monkeys), a rat snake and two female four-horned antelope, all died at the zoo between 2016 and 2017.(Hindustan Times)

Byculla zoo lost 37 endangered animals in a year, data from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) revealed.

Protected under schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, 31 black bucks (25 female and six male), a female Himalayan bear, two female rhesus macaque (old-world monkeys), a rat snake and two female four-horned antelope, all died at the zoo between 2016 and 2017.

Zoo officials said all schedule I species had come of age. “Exotic species are all breeding stock including the penguins, the military macaw, African Grey Parrot, among others. However, some of the most protected species, mostly mammals, had spent their entire life in captivity and died from natural causes,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, zoo director.

He said the zoo now plans to procure Madras pond turtles, common otters, sloth bears, hyenas, wolves, jackals, leopards, reptiles, lesser cats and birds. “Visitors will be able to witness these animals from early next year onwards,” said Dr Tripathi.

The zoo also recorded 18 deaths of animals listed as schedule II and IV species in 2016-17.

Experts said the issue can only be resolved after a detailed inspection of the zoo . “Since zoo authorities are saying everything is fine, they should not be bothered by an inspection either from the centre or the state,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist.

“There is a compromise with regard to the quality of life of animals in captivity. It becomes even more challenging when you have species which are foreign. In such circumstances, you either provide the absolute suitable habitat of the animal from where it belongs or there is no need to take such animals,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, cofounder, Wildlife SOS and former CZA member.

Animal activists said the rise in deaths hardly comes as a shock. “Such a zoo, with incompetency written all over it and driven by political whims and fancies, is only headed for a disaster,” said Anand Siva, Chembur based animal welfare activist.

Officials from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) said there was need for proper medical facilities in the zoo.

“The death of schedule I species needs to be investigated and we have alerted our central bureau and the CZA about this,” said M Maranko, regional director, WCCB.

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 09:44 IST