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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Penguin dies of infection at Mumbai zoo, activists ask police to probe

Dory, a one-and-a-half-year old female penguin, died of liver and intestinal infections.

mumbai Updated: Oct 24, 2016 15:18 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The death of Dory has animal activists worried as the Humboldt Penguins are an endangered species.
The death of Dory has animal activists worried as the Humboldt Penguins are an endangered species.(HT FILE)

A day after a Humboldt penguin died at the Byculla Zoo barely three months after it was procured, animal activists in Mumbai filed a complaint with the police alleging negligence by zoo authorities and demanded an investigation into the matter.

Non-governmental organisation, Plant and Animals Welfare Society – Mumbai (PAWS) also wrote to Central Zoo Authority asking it to visit Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo and check whether ideal conditions have been provided for the seven remaining penguins.

On Sunday, a one-and-a-half-year-old female penguin named Dory, died at the zoo’s quarantine facility owing to liver dysfunction and an intestinal infection.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had spent Rs 2.57 crore to buy the South American species found in the cold climes of coastal Peru and Chile . The birds were brought to Mumbai in July amid opposition from animal activists who feared for their survival.

“We have filed a complaint (application) citing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act as the penguin was diagnosed with liver and intestinal infections. It is possible that the food being given to the birds did not suit them even after zoo officials said all possible measures were being taken to protect them,” said Sunish Subramaniam Kunju, secretary, PAWS-Mumbai.

READ: Penguin dies at Byculla zoo 3 months after coming to city

He added that the penguins should be transferred to a safer sanctuary. “We demand a thorough investigation at the quarantine area, where the penguins are being housed, before they are put out for public display,” said Kunju adding that if the condition of animals is poor, the zoo’s license should be cancelled.

Native to Chile and Peru in South America, the Humboldt penguins which are an endangered species, were procured from Coex Aquarium in Seoul. The flightless birds are scheduled to go on public viewing from mid-November.


Citizens have also started petition called ‘release penguins kept at inadequate zoo to a suitable sanctuary’ that has already garnered 819 signatures since Dory’s death on Sunday via various social media websites.

Officials from the Wildlife Trust of India were skeptical about the measures and expertise required for safeguarding the Humboldt penguins. “This can be seen as a transfer for these endangered species from one jail to another one,” said Jose Louies, head of trade control, Wildlife Trust of India. “Even officials in-charge of international zoos like the National Zoological Park at Washington, USA had a hard time looking after these birds.”

When the penguins arrived in Mumbai in July, about 20 activists staged a protest in front of the Indian Consulate at Manhattan, New York to raise concerns about the arrival of the birds in Byculla zoo on a global level.

READ: Byculla zoo to get 10 new species in February

HT had reported earlier this month that the Byculla zoo is likely to get another 10 animals as a part of the Rs 150-crore revamp plan, which was approved by the Central Zoo Authority in 2012. Currently, there are 429 animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles in the 53-acre park.

Environmentalists and animal welfare activists said that the zoo needs to drastically improve its conditions before introducing new species for display.

“One bird has escaped the misery faced by all wildlife for the last four years in the living hell called the Byculla Zoo. They cannot take care of indigenous species and are over stretching themselves into exotic wildlife,” said Stalin Dayanand, project director, NGO Vanashakti.

“Byculla Zoo as it is in pathetic shape and needs to be shut down. There are monkeys that are diseased, cages that are rusting and zero maintenance. While the Central Zoo authority might have approved the revamp, they need to visit the zoo for themselves to see its state before sanctioning more animals to be sent here,” said Anand Siva, animal welfare activist from Chembur.


7 penguins at the zoo: 3 male, 4 female

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought to the Byculla Zoo on July 26. On Sunday, a one-and-a-half-year-old female penguin named Dory, died at the zoo’s quarantine facility

Reason: Liver dysfunction and intestinal infection, zoo authorities say.

The aquatic birds, however, will be on display for visitors only from mid-November at Byculla Zoo’s interpretation centre.

  • Humboldt penguins nest in burrows and are medium-sized, growing between 55cm and 70cm in length, and have and an average weight of 4kg
  • The females are slightly smaller than the males, but otherwise have the same featuresStaple diet for Humboldt penguins is small fish such as sardines
  • Humboldt penguins are mostly found along the Pacific coast of South America, from Isla Foca off the coast of Peru down to Algarrobo in Chile
    -12,000 Breeding pair across the world
    - 8,000 in Chile
    - 4,000 in Peru
Kept in isolation, for now
  • Officials said the penguins will be put in a specially designed secluded place for a minimum of three months to acclimatise them with the change of location.
  • The temporary structure will be a replica of the enclosure that will house the penguins later this year.
  • While the place where they will be quarantined will be a 250 sq ft enclosure, the exhibits will be spread over 1,550 sq ft.

First Published: Oct 24, 2016 10:28 IST

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