BONDLA: Elephants may no longer be an attraction at Goa’s only zoo in the Bondla wildlife sanctuary. After the zoo’s sole tusked pachyderm breathed his last in October 2018 at the estimated age of 50, forest officials have decided not to get any more elephants.
“Bondla zoo might not see an elephant. At this stage, we are not planning to have any elephants at the zoo,” a forest department official told TOI. Krishna, Bondla zoo’s last tusker Krishna breathed his last a few years after his mate Radha died in 2012. Initially, attempts were made to bring a partner for the male elephant.
“There is a ban from the court stating that the elephant cannot be used for any other purpose besides that of the display at a zoo. We cannot have elephant joyrides or related activities at Bondla as a result,” the official said. With the growing consciousness surrounding animal rights, commercial use of elephants has been banned in some parts of the country. Without revenue generation from elephant joyrides, the exorbitant cost of maintaining the animal has to be borne entirely from forest department funds.
Sources from the department said the cost of feeding and maintaining the health and lifestyle of an elephant costs anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh on an average. The annual expenditure incurred for a pair of elephants stands at approximately Rs 24 lakh.
In addition, officials are also plagued with issues resulting from restricting the movement of the animal. “The elephant requires space to move. It cannot be kept stationed at one place only or inside a cage. At zoos in other states, elephants are kept at camps. We lack this type of infrastructure at the Bondla zoo,” the official said.
Central Zoo Authorities’ (CZA) guidelines mandate that for the establishment and scientific management of zoos in India, animals be kept at zoos in pairs only. Bondla zoo is yet to acquire a female hippo for the male, Devidas. Zoo authorities are also attempting to bring a pair of tigers after its erstwhile pair of big cats died earlier.
“We have written to the Mysuru zoo to provide us with a hippo and they have agreed in principle. For tigers as well, we have written to a few zoos, but there hasn’t been a positive response yet. We will require the CZA to prescribe a solution and suggest where we can source a pair of tigers from,” the forest official said.