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Politics and Nation

The plight of Delhi Zoo: Few "demotivated" keepers and the striking figure of animal mortality

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Demotivated animal keepers
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Demotivated animal keepers

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has recommended starting a capacity-development programme for Delhi zoo's "very demotivated" animal keepers and roping in more interns and volunteers for assistance, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The CZA has also recommended sending the animal keepers to other zoos to learn best practices.

(In pic: The closed entry gates of the National Zoological Park as Delhi Zoo has been temporarily shut after the death of nine birds, on October 19, 2016 in New Delhi, India.)

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Working on a solution
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Working on a solution

According to the CZA Member-Secretary S P Yadav, a lot is happening in the zoo and the situation doesn't inspire confidence. The animal keepers are feeling very demotivated. And that there's an urgent need to organise a capacity-development programme for them every three months.

"Instructions have been issued in this regard. The programme will feature the best practices of zoos across the country," he said.

He added that the CZA has also recommended sending Delhi zoo's animal keepers to other zoos, which will rejuvenate them and help them acquire new skills.

(In pic: A zookeeper sprinkles water on Bengal Tiger during hot afternoon in Delhi Zoo, on May 21, 2019.)

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Interns and volunteers welcome
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Interns and volunteers welcome

The CZA has asked the zoo administration to rope in more volunteers and interns for help.

"Anyone who loves and cares for wildlife can apply to become a volunteer. For internship, applicants should be students of veterinary colleges and have some background knowledge," Yadav said.

"It will be an unpaid internship programme, but the zoo will provide accommodation to the interns," Yadav said.

(In pic: Sprinklers put in the enclosure of Emu's at Delhi Zoo to to give some respite from heat to the Birds and Animals on June 25, 2012 in New Delhi.)

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Severe shortage of staff
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Severe shortage of staff

A Delhi zoo official, however, said there's a severe shortage of staff in the zoo and volunteers and interns cannot make up for it.

"Earlier, the animal section had around 80 employees. Now less than 30, including attendants and gangmen, are left. One cannot expect volunteers and interns to do the work of regular staff," the official said.

The overall staff strength has come down from 350 to 80. There are only 20 animal keepers left in the zoo, the official claimed.

(In pic: A Zoo staff member covers his face while spraying chemicals near a rosy Pelican enclosure to prevent the Bird Flu.)

BCCL
245 deaths in a year
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245 deaths in a year

The zoo has been in the headlines recently over a large number of animal deaths and allegations of irregularities by staff.

According to a recently conducted census, the Delhi zoo recorded 245 deaths from April 2018 to June 2019 — the second-highest mortality figure in five years.

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Vanishing species
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Vanishing species

In August, the zoo's last cape buffalo died after eating plastic, prompting the authorities to order a probe into the incident.

The zoo has lost around 10 species of animals, including chinkara, cassowary and ostrich, and 27 animal species do not have a mating partner.

(In pic: Wildlife, Chinkara [gazella])

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