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After Penguin’s death, zoo contractor’s deposit forfeited

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Following the recent death of an 18-month-old Humboldt penguin in Mumbai zoo, the civic body has forfeited Rs. 1.40 crore deposit of the contractor responsible for construction of the bird’s enclosure.

In another development, the Central Zoo Authority has written to Byculla zoo officials seeking a status report on the seven remaining penguins in the zoo.

A senior official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation informed about this decision during a meeting of the standing committee of the house on Wednesday and said the decision to forfeit the deposit was taken last week.

BMC’s Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh, who presided over the meeting, informed the house saying, “We have come to know that there have been issues in the joint venture between the contractor – Highway Construction company – and SIVAT services.”

SIVAT is an expert in aquatic life support system. BMC had a contract with Highway Construction, which claimed to have a joint venture with SIVAT.

“For constructing a penguin enclosure, we had awarded a contract to Highway Construction company, which claimed to have forged a venture with SIVAT services. But, in our inquiry we found that there was no such joint venture and therefore, we decided to forfeit the deposit (of the construction company),” a civic official said.

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought from South Korea to the Byculla zoo in Mumbai in July this year and the procuring agency was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these aquatic flightless birds for the first three months.

However, one penguin died on October 23 of bacterial infection and liver dysfunction.

Meanwhile, in a fresh development, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), the Central government body that regulates and oversees the functioning of zoos in the country, has written to Byculla Zoo authorities and asked for a status report on the seven remaining penguins in the zoo.

Confirming the move, Byculla Zoo Director Sanjay Tripathi said, “We have received a correspondence from CZA and would submit the report soon.”

He also said that the zoo administration has not received the detailed postmortem report from the Bombay Veterinary College, and that they were following the same.

Notably, MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande had earlier written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding that the remaining seven Humboldts be immediately sent back to ensure their survival.

Humboldt Penguins can only thrive in cold climate and MNS and environmentalists had been protesting against acquiring such exotic creatures right from the beginning.

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