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Friday, July 7, 2023

plight of Zoo animals and the foolish man who stood on tortoise !

People throng to Zoo to see and enjoy animals – the one at Vandalur is sprawling and attracts huge crowds – far cry from the days, it was housed in Lily Pond complex [Moore Market] nearer Central Station. In 1979, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department set aside acres of land  in the Vandalur Reserve Forest on the outskirts of the city to build the current zoo  and the zoo in its new premises was officially opened to public  in 1985  by the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu M.G. Ramachandran.  It has high stream of visitors and receives more than a lakh people every day during the Pongal holidays, especially on Kanum Pongal day. 

In some ways, all that is not good for the animal housed there.  Sadly, in Chennai [so also in many other zoos in the Country] people do not follow the instructions, especially the ‘don’ts’.  The Zoos are ‘no polybag’ zones – as plastic bags with left over snacks are thrown into enclosures, animals might swallow them.  They can clog their digestive tract and suffocate the animals to death.  There are many unruly elements which harm those inside the enclosures.  Before that visitors should not feed the animals – they are not helping them by providing food [of their choice like popcorn, wafers, biscuits etc.,] ~ that is elementary, each animal has a different eating habit – visitors only harm them by providing their choice food or leftovers !

The other bad habit is teasing animals – to make them move around ~ people derive sadistic pleasure by Shouting, hissing, making faces, throwing things, running in front of the cage, waving sticks – trying to disturb and infuriate animals into action.  Many tap the glass window in fish enclosure – animals are shy and sensitive; they have their own routine.  People often expect animals to be active all the time, as though the animal wanted to meet and react to them at that precise moment.  It can bring a lot of stress on the animal is what people fail to understand.
Then there are other nauseating behaviours of throwing the waste into the enclosure, throwing stones on animals, spitting, smoking and the like.  Some months back, Nation watched with horror when a youngman jumped into a tiger enclosure and was mauled. Some were busy taking photos and videos of the incident and posting them on social sites.  Then experts (!) started asking so many questions – what were the authorities doing ? why there were no tranquilisers ?? – conveniently forgotten were the facts that it was a wild animal enclosure, people were not expected to get nearer [certainly not jump inside !]; some get closer for taking selfies with animal in the background !; when crocodiles bask, it is common for people to throw something on it including water bottle to check whether it is alive !!; then there are drunk and hooligan elements too. 

Here is one incident narrated in MailOnline which sums up what one could see in many Zoos.  Fazal Shaik, 24, posed for picture on top of 120-year-old tortoise's shell. The incident took place at Hyderabad city zoo after he jumped into enclosure. He was arrested for wildlife offences after sharing picture on social media.  Shaik told police: 'I just wanted to put it on Facebook so I'd get lots of likes' – the publicity stunt was branded 'cruel' and 'stupid' by Nehru Zoological Park's curator. 

It was the most shameful ‘shelf-fie’ attempt standing on top of a 120-year-old giant tortoise.  Fazal, who is facing six months in jail if convicted, told police: 'I just wanted to put it up on Facebook so I'd get lots of likes.' Galapagos giant tortoises are the largest living species of tortoise on the planet and the 14th-heaviest living reptile.  They are classed as a 'vulnerable' species which means they are likely to become endangered. They have life spans of well over 100 years - with one which was bred in captivity living to around 170 years. Tortoise numbers declined from over 250,000 in the 16th century to a low of around 3,000 in the 1970s.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Feb 2015.

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