Monday, June 05, 2006

In Indian Zoos, Life Can Be Brutal and Short: Visitors to Indian Zoos Often Throw Stones at Animals, Many of Whom Are Already In Pain and Enclosed

As if the action in the title wasn’t bad enough, here are other offenses. It’s just mind boggling that people would want to be so cruel:

Elephants, were kept chained or shackled, nocturnal animals were kept in bright sunlight, aquatic animals were kept in inadequate water and teasing was rampant.

Giving the monkeys lit cigarettes, glass, pakoras.

Harassment by visitors, are common in urban centres around the country.

Pelting the crocodiles with stones on a daily basis.

Overcrowding - less than 40 keepers looking after 1,250 animals.

Reports of negligence are also common - two six-month-old jaguar cubs died this year after knocking over bottles of disinfectant and lapping up the contents while their keeper was cleaning their enclosure.

Many enclosures are concrete cells rather than anything remotely resembling the animals' natural habitat.

Article:

In Indian zoos, life can be brutal and short

http://au.news.yahoo.com/060605/19/z8vc.html

Sun Jun 4, 11:11 PM ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Visitors to Indian zoos often throw stones at animals, many of whom are already in pain and enclosed in filthy, concrete boxes, officials and animal rights groups say.

Deteriorating conditions prompted rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last month to sue states running zoos and the Central Zoo Authority that oversees them.

"From August last year till March this year we compiled our own inventory of zoos," said PETA's director Anuradha Sawhney.

The group discovered animals, including elephants, were kept chained or shackled, nocturnal animals were kept in bright sunlight, aquatic animals were kept in inadequate water and teasing was rampant.

"You have visitors giving animals all kinds of things to eat, giving the monkeys lit cigarettes, glass, pakoras (vegetable fritters)," she said, adding that PETA was suing the bodies for inflicting "pain and suffering" on animals and noncompliance with local zoo regulations.

Zoo officials themselves acknowledge that such problems, particularly harassment by visitors, are common in urban centres around the country.

At the 131-year-old zoo in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, many enclosures are concrete cells rather than anything remotely resembling the animals' natural habitat.

"We are aware that the animals and birds are not well in the cages and moats. Efforts are on minimizing their agony," Alipore Zoological Garden director Subir Chowdhury told AFP, adding that many cages were rusted and decrepit.

"We need more space to offer comfort to the animals."

Similar discoveries were made by animal welfare charity Zoocheck Canada in a report in December 2004.

Many cages at Mumbai's zoo, one of the oldest in the country, were extremely filthy, the Zoocheck report said.

The zoo, established in 1873, gave the impression of a "relic of a bygone age when animals were displayed for the lewd and vulgar curiosity of the public" and there was little space for the animals.

It called for the zoo, which attracts some 800,000 visitors a year, to be immediately shutdown.

Thirteen deer died in February after dogs entered an enclosure and caused a stampede. City officials have set up a committee to look at ways to improve conditions there.

At the New Delhi zoo, housed in the medieval-era Old Fort, conditions seem slightly better. An AFP reporter saw signs warning visitors not to tease the animals and many of them are housed in open spaces.

Yet, in spite of fans being placed around cramped indoor cages, the Himalayan black bears did not look comfortable. And a limping Palm Civet, a small mammal found in Asia and described as "arboreal" on the card on its cage, had no trees to climb.

Visitors, many of them from small towns outside the city, refrained from throwing objects at the animals. And one man warned his young daughter not to feed them, a sign that people's attitudes may be changing.

But visitor behavior is still a major problem, the zoo director told AFP. At least one man was observed urging his friend to throw his water bottle into a hippopotamus' mouth. The friend declined.

"We have to work against what we think the concept of a zoo should be," said D.N. Singh, who took over management of the zoo in August.

Singh said the zoo had been forced to erect barriers at eye-level to prevent visitors from pelting the crocodiles with stones on a daily basis.

Overcrowding is another problem, Singh said, with less than 40 keepers looking after 1,250 animals.

Reports of negligence are also common, with Singh saying two six-month-old jaguar cubs died this year after knocking over bottles of disinfectant and lapping up the contents while their keeper was cleaning their enclosure.

"It was an accident," Singh said sadly.

But Singh said the Indian media is sometimes hard on the zoo, with reports claiming authorities had no idea last month where one of its black bears had gone. In fact it had been mated and was pregnant and hiding, he said.

"We do have inherent problems," said Singh, but the zoo was trying to improve, most recently by creating a more natural habitat for its primates.

Such changes are what PETA's Sawhney is hoping to achieve through the lawsuit. But she said the best result would be closing all of India's zoos.

"I haven't been (to the New Delhi zoo) in the last few years but all zoos in India are bad," said Sawhney.

"If animals are not safe in zoos, why do you have them?"

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