GUWAHATI: In a bid to save the cows, an Assam BJP leader has proposed that the carnivores of the Guwahati Zoo should be fed the over-populated sambar deer instead of the staple beef.
Satya Ranjan Borah, the BJP leader, asked why only beef was being served to the animals when there were other meat options.
“We (Hindu society) talk about the protection of the holy cow but the animal is killed to feed the zoo carnivores. Beef is supplied under a system and the government is a part of it. But why is only beef when we can give them the meat of sambar deer or pig?” Borah asked.
He said the growth of the zoo’s sambar deer population had been such that the males had to be kept separately from the females. The zoo can achieve self-sufficiency if the sambar deer meat is used to feed the carnivores, including leopards, tigers, lions etc, he said.
“It’s a racket. Had it not been the case, the carnivores would have got to eat the meat of other animals,” Bora said, adding, “The Hindus worldwide worship the cow. Some people stand opposed to this age-old tradition”.
The zoo authorities admitted that the sambar deer population was rising but said the killing of the animal was prohibited.
“I agree the zoo’s sambar deer population is rising heavily. That’s the reason why we have separated the males from the females. We have done this to make sure their population decreases. However, as per the Indian laws, we cannot give the meat of zoo animals to the zoo’s carnivores. It is prohibited. Also, sambar deer is a wild animal and we cannot kill wild animals,” Divisional Forest Officer Tejas Mariswamy, who is the in-charge of the zoo, told this newspaper.
He said normally, the carnivores, such as tigers, eat the meat of bovine animals. He said goat meat was recently introduced at the zoo.
“The carnivores are fed five days a week. Earlier, beef was served six days a week. Now, it is served for four days. Goat meat is served one day,” Mariswamy said.
Stating that it is difficult to suddenly change food habits, he said the beef was the most preferred and recommended option for carnivores across Indian zoos.
Meanwhile, some right-wing organisations on Monday staged a protest in Guwahati against the practice of serving beef to zoo carnivores. They demanded the animals be fed goat meat or chicken.