In the wake of a spate of complaints that some zookeepers siphon off food meant for animals, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has sought installation of the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to enhance the surveillance mechanism in kitchens and stores where the meal is prepared, stored and distributed to animals.
This will ensure that the quality and quantity of foods being doled out to animals, reptiles and birds in the zoos across the country is watched through the network of the CCTV cameras.
In a circular issued last week to the directors of the recognised zoos, CZA Member Secretary Dr Anup Kumar Nayak pointed out that time and again, the CZA has been receiving representations from various quarters expressing apprehension regarding quality and quantity of food being offered to animals housed in zoos. There are total 142 zoos in the country. This is for the first time that CCTV cameras are being proposed to be deployed in kitchens and stores so that directors of the zoos from his/her office can keep a watch on the quality and quantity of food being given to the animals.
Nayak said, “To ensure that the animals get quality food as per their requirements, the zoos are advised to enhance the surveillance mechanism in places of procurement, storage, processing and distribution of food for animals housed in zoos.
“Installation of CCTV cameras is advised for the purpose. Also, manpower be deputed for monitoring the same. The database so generated should be made available for inspection of the authorised personnel. Based on the inputs received, appropriate corrective measures be taken up by the zoos.”
Zoos have also been asked to conduct a review in this regard, finalise the surveillance plan and ascertain the availability of infrastructure. This is in fulfillment of the standard and norms prescribed in the schedule 5 (2) of Rule 10 under the recognition of Zoo Rules, 2009, added a senior official from the CZA under the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife. The proposal has to be submitted with the CZA within a month. If needed, CZA will help fund the project also.
“So far the zoos have been installing the CCTV cameras for keeping a tab on visitors or checking thefts. But there have been reports that some zoo keepers are not adhering to hygiene while providing food to animals or are stealing their food. It is the duty of the zoo to provide quality food to each animal. The health of the zoo’s animals is directly related to the quality of food being served to them,” the official explained.
An animal expert said the poor quality of feed raises the risk of enteritis, which is a bacterial infection in the intestine and is considered one of the prime causes of animal deaths.
Similarly, less quantity can leave animals starving to death.
The CZA has recently developed a detailed document in consultation with experts, scientific institutions and the veterinarians of the zoos for effective monitoring of quality and quantity of food provided to zoo animals among others like diagnostic kits and drugs for better healthcare of the captive animals.
As per the National ZOO Policy, 1998, zoos shall provide diet to each species as per their nature as well ensure round the clock supply of potable drinking water to all captive animals in the zoo.
Of the 142 zoos across the country those run by municipalities are at Ahmedabad, Cuttack, Gwalior, Indore, Mumbai, Pune, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara while steel plants have their own zoos at Bhilai, Bokaro, Jamshedpur and Rourkela.