Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poor Care, Neglect, or Worse, What Killed the Big Cat?

Sept. 14: As green and welcoming the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) may seem to Bengalureans looking to get away from the noise and pollution of the city, not everything seems to be well at the park if the recent deaths of lions and tigers in its grounds are anything to go by. The Bannerghatta zoo has lost a few big cats recently, throwing up questions about the quality of care they receive at the park.

A couple of insiders blame poor coordination between the administration and ground staff for the deaths of the animals. If they are to be believed, the zoo is guilty of neglecting the animals in its care, particularly where their feeding is concerned. While the park buys about 600 kgs of beef every day to feed about 150 carnivores, including lions, tigers and leopards, the meat is allegedly never washed or checked. “Zoos across the globe follow quality control where the food of the animals is concerned. The meat is washed with boiling water to remove infectious bacteria before it is given to the animals. But nothing of the sort is done at the BBP,” they alleged.

It is also claimed that senior officers at the park are not present during the feeding of the carnivores and other animals. “Officers of assistant conservator of forests rank and above are supposed to be present when the animals are fed or when they are given medication. But such rules are not followed at the park. It is left to the animal keepers to gives the big cats both their feed and medication,” claim a few insiders.

Animal experts feel the zoo is becoming too commercial for its good, and is losing its focus on animal conservation and education as a result. “The park organises as many as 120 safari trips every day and the drivers hurry up each round, so that they can move on to the next. Why are they concentrating so much on making money? The BBP was set up as a rescue centre for animals and not to provide people entertainment,” says a wildlife expert. Park officials admit it is sometimes difficult to provide the thousand odd animals in their care individual attention, particularly as they are short of animal keepers and wildlife veterinarians.

But they maintain that a range forest officer has been given the responsiblity of feeding and taking care of the animals in the safari area and he tries to do the best he can.

www.bigcatrescue.org

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