THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It has been months since Thiruvananthapuram zoo has had no curator, and about a year since it has had no biologist. Though only two positions, the resource crunch has been severe. Severe enough to force the zoo veterinarian to stay back and send Thrissur zoo doctor in his place, during the white tiger transfer from Delhi.
Eight months ago, the zoo curator was shifted to Natural History museum. Since appointment procedures through PSC are time-consuming, the zoo authorities had then requested the Employment Exchange for a curator. After the contract of the temporarily-appointed staff ended, no new curator has come in their place.
The zoo superintendent has been taking care of both the roles. Now that he has left for Delhi to bring home the white tiger, the doctor has been juggling with all the roles. The zoo’s lone doctor has had tough times during disease outbreak before.
A curator is responsible for overseeing a lot of functions like managing the animal keepers and maintaining up-to-date records of feed. The hands-on role requires the curator to visit enclosures on a daily basis, to see if the keepers have done their job.
A biologist is in charge of ensuring that the surroundings an animal is put in, suit the animal. For example, deer enclosures should ideally have grass turf. But with time, the green covering would become scant, and it is the biologist who keeps a track of the enrichment that needs to be given in such an enclosure.
The zoo has been able to manage efficiently, with the superintendent and doctor stepping in, according to Zoos and Museums Director K Gangadharan. “The duties have not been neglected at all, and we are managing with the existing staff. We have written to PSC for a curator. But the procedure will take time,” he says.
The scarcity of staff will be more pronounced in the future, with more animals coming in as part of various transfers. There is always a possibility of a contingency. However, PSC appointment procedure of inviting applications and screening candidates through test and interview is going to take its own sweet time.