The recent incident of a man being killed by a white tiger at the Delhi zoo highlighted the need to restructure and revamp Indian zoological parks, while raising questions over the security of animals and visitors.
While some experts say it’s time private organisations were given a role in their management, others question the very concept of zoological parks.
They have even said that India’s zoos are among the worst in the world and the government should stop managing them and instead outsource them to private companies and experts.
“Zoological parks need to be shut down. Animals are not supposed to be kept in zoos, which is why they are called wild animals. Zoos should only operate for conservation and rehabilitation purposes, and not for people to throw stones and tease them,” said Animal Welfare Board of India vice chairman S. Chinny Krishna.
“You can never make zoos a safe place in India. Keeping animals in zoos is like keeping them in a golden cage and giving them food,” he added.
Prachi Mehta, wildlife scientist and executive director (Research) at the Wildlife Research and Conservation Society, said it is high time that India followed international standards to design its 192 zoos that are regulated by the Central Zoo Authority, an autonomous statutory body under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, under the environment ministry.
“There are some excellent zoos outside India such as the Beijing zoo, San Diego zoo and Micke Grove (California) zoo that serve as excellent educational and research platforms and create awareness about animals. Our zoos can be designed in such ways,” said Mehta.
She said the focus on the revamping of zoos in India has come into sharp focus after the Sep 23 incident in which a seven-year-old white tiger mauled and killed a 20-year-old man, who had fallen in its enclosure.
Soon after the incident, which went viral on the social media, zoo authorities pointed out that the guard posted at the tiger’s enclosure tried to “stop” the victim and said he crossed three levels of barricading and “jumped” into the moat when the guard was not looking.