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Posted at: Mar 1, 2017, 12:24 AM; last updated: Mar 1, 2017, 12:24 AM (IST)

Shortage of qualified staff hampers animal upkeep

Jotirmay Thapliyal

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 28

The shortage of qualified animal keepers in zoos across the country continues to hinder the proper upkeep of animals.

DN Singh, member secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), who was in Dehradun today to attend the annual conference of Indian Zoos, said most of the animal keepers were just matriculate and lack of education affected their day-to-day working.

He said, “I believe that animal keepers should be a zoology graduate. In western countries, animal keepers are even PhDs. But animal keepers here are just matriculate or senior secondary at the farthest. In our country, animal keeping is considered a menial job which is not an opinion for this job in Europe.”

He said the key posts of director at the zoos continue to be unstable. “Due to routine postings, directors at the zoos are reshuffled that leads to instability, thus affecting the working at the zoos. Veterinarians strength should be good but their scarcity at zoos is quite common,” he said.

DN Singh also held that spacious zoos were the need of the hour. “We favour big enclosures as it gives adequate space to animals for the movement. Moreover, spacious zoos will also ensure adequate distance between the animal enclosure and visitors, which will also lead to reduction of incidents of animal teasing,” he added.

He said, “From April 1, the zoos across the country will submit the details of every animal online, including death of animals. This information will be accessible to general public too”.

According to DN Singh, the Central Zoo Authority has identified 26 endangered species that would be taken up for conservation breeding. This prominently includes Red Panda, clouded leopard, niligris langoor and snow leopard. The vulture breeding programme has already been a big success and as many as 250 vultures will be released shortly from Pinjore.

He said a majority of the 166 zoos in the country are mini zoos. He admitted that there were less number of zoos that were managing their own expenses but that zoos were not just meant to earn money and were conservation oriented.

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