Adding to its list of major attractions, city’s Byculla Zoo has brought in eight Humboldt penguins from Chile and Peru, an exercise which has not gone down well with wildlife experts who termed it as “wasteful and unnecessary.”
The eight Humboldt penguins, three males and five females, arrived yesterday at the zoo, run by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), will be open for public view in the next three to four months.
“Mumbaikars will get to see them only by November as the birds need to acclimatise here. The birds have been kept in a specially designed 1700 sq ft air conditioning chamber and special attention and consideration will be given to understand their biological needs and behavioural patterns,” a senior BMC official said.
“After the cooling period is over, these penguins will then be shifted to the Penguin Exhibition Centre where people can see them,” he said, adding the penguins can survive easily in temperature zone of 10 to 25 degrees Celsius.
According to a press release issued by the civic body, the newly arrived penguins are about one to three years old and weigh around 1 to 2.5 kgs.
“The weight is expected to reach 4-6 kgs after they are fully-grown. Their height, which is 12.15 cms now, will also increase to 65-70 cm,” it said.
The penguins, commonly known as South African birds, will each day be fed about one kg fish and a special team of veterinary doctors and maintenance staff would be keeping a watch on their well-being 24X7.
City’s wildlife experts have, however, termed the entire exercise as “wasteful and unnecessary.”
“I don’t think it is a right move. I oppose the idea of keeping animals in captivity. And keeping penguins in captivity by transporting them from other countries is completely an avoidable exercise,” wildlife expert Debi Goenka said.
Goenka, who is also an executive trustee of NGO Conservation Action Trust, pointed out that the Byculla zoo is already in a bad shape to accommodate such creatures.
“Byculla zoo is in a bad condition and the process of relocating big animals from the zoo to other places is already in doldrums. And adding to woes, small creatures have been brought in. There is no point in spending nearly Rs 24 crores on this (bringing penguins to the zoo),” he said.