The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation assured Bombay High Court that “utmost care and precaution” has been taken to provide a healthy and conducive environment to the seven Humboldt penguins, brought here from South Korea last year.
The penguins are presently kept in a quarantined area in the civic body-run Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo at Byculla in south Mumbai. Out of the eight penguins brought here in July 2016 from South Korea, one died in the zoo within three months.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Advait Sethna, seeking a direction to the civic body to send the penguins back as they were not being take good care of here and that they are an endangered species which need a certain kind of environment.
Sethna sought interim direction to BMC not to display the penguins to public, pending hearing of the petition.
The BMC today filed an affidavit in response to the PIL and said the area where the penguins would be kept for public display was still being constructed and until then, the penguins would remain in quarantine where only veterinary doctors and a keeper were allowed to go.
“We have taken utmost care and precaution for providing a healthy and conducive environment for the management of the Humboldt penguins and therefore, there is no question of sending them back. In fact, the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo is the only zoo in India which has the facilities to exhibit these penguins,” said the affidavit filed by zoo director Sanjay Tripathi.
“The Humboldt penguins are being looked after by experienced professional veterinary doctors. Temperature and humidity in the quarantine area is being continuously monitored by municipal engineers. The penguins are fed with special fish procured just for them (penguins),” it said.
The affidavit further said the quarantine area and its vicinity is kept clean and pest control is done once a week.
It said the air temperature in the exhibit area, where the penguins would be kept for display later, will be maintained between 12 to 16 deg Centigrade and the pool water temperature would be 11 to 16 deg.
“The said exhibit area is under construction and in its final stage. Only after it is complete the seven penguins would be shifted there for public display,” it said.
The corporation also clarified that one of the penguins which died within three months of it being brought to India was because of the presence of a type of bacteria in its body and not due to any other reason.