VISAKHAPATNAM:Days after HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao announced that the proposal for shifting Indira Gandhi Zoological Park is still in its initial stage, it is now reliably learnt that no such proposal is under consideration with the Forest department. However, a proposal for introducing the night safari facility at the zoo park is under active consideration.
The proposal for shifting the zoo park, spread over 625 acre, was initiated by Ganta Srinivasa Rao to replace it with a night safari, a botanical garden and other such tourist attractions. But the issue invited flak by many organisations and individuals raising objections against such project and demanding its scrapping immediately, as it would not only violate the law but also destroy fragile ecological balance.
Following the public backlash, the HRD minister stated that the proposal was still on drawing board stage. He claimed that the existing zoo park cannot accommodate more animals which would be an obstacle for expanding the zoo and commence the night safari project. But now, it has been confirmed by the forest officials that no such proposal is pending with the department. The authorities fear that changing the boundaries of the zoo park without the permission from Central Zoo Authority would attract violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972, and several other laws.
“Shifting the zoo park is next to impossible as we have no such proposal under consideration. Instead, we are planning to add more animals in the next few days. However, the night safari project is under consideration and a detailed project report is being prepared by the authorities concerned,” a top official in the Forest department told Express. Under the night safari project, people will be able to visit different animals during the night at their enclosures. “We are also examining the possibilities of allowing a night stay at the zoo,” the senior officer added. Further, the forest officials are making efforts to improve greenery at the zoo which suffered severely due to cyclone Hudhud and necessary funds have been sanctioned in this regard.
Interestingly, the authorities are making arrangements to increase the zoo population and are in the process of adding new animals under the animal exchange programmes. If all goes well, the city zoo would get a chimpanzee couple (male and female) from Israel shortly for which the authorities are awaiting necessary permissions. Similarly, Taipei agreed to supply two pairs of zebras and in return, the city zoo officials agreed to supply a pair of lions and a wild dog couple to Taipei zoo which also has expressed readiness to provide a pair of Olive Baboons to the city. A pair of pigmy hippos are awaited from Sri Lanka for which a special enclosure has already been erected.
In addition, the zoo has already become home for an elephant calf which was caught by the forest officials at Salur in Vizianagaram district recently. The baby elephant ravaged the agricultural fields and sent farmers into a tizzy before the forest officials caught it and transported it to the Animal Rescue Centre in the zoo. The baby elephant has been trained by the authorities to adapt to the zoo environment and will be shortly kept on display for public.