A four-member committee has proposed an Odisha Zoo Authority (OZA) on the lines of such bodies in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal after studying the status of small and mini zoos in the State.
The OZA will provide technical guidance and evaluate facilities of the smaller zoological parks and help them improve management.
The panel, headed by senior IFS officer SK Sinha, has recommended that the proposed OZA will be established by virtue of an administrative notification and will not be a statutory body. On the basis of the authority’s recommendations, all the grants - State and Central - meant for the zoos will be channelised. The OZA will also monitor funds utilisation and carry out assessment.
The current process of all zoos needing recognition of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) will not be changed with the OZA acting as an autonomous body. Nandankanan Zoological Park, the only large zoo in the State, will also come under its purview.
Earlier, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) was entrusted with the task of inspecting the small and mini zoos. But, due to heavy workload, he could not cover them all.
The committee has also made zoo specific recommendations on housing, upkeep, enclosure expansion, veterinary service augmentation, training and diet.
Reliable sources said the panel recommended that animals in the deer parks be segregated on basis of their sex so that their population can be controlled.
There are eight mini zoos or deer parks and three small zoos in the State. The small zoos are located at Kapilas, Sambalpur and Rourkela. The mini zoos at Kuanria (Nayagarh), Taptapani (Ganjam), Kapilas (Dhenkanal), Motijharan (Sambalpur), Papdahandi (Nabarangpur), Harishankar (Balangir) and Gharial Research and Conservation Centre, Tikarpada (Angul) operate under the Forest and Environment Department.
However, the zoos at Bhanja Vihar, Cuttack, Rourkela and Sunabeda are either under the local urban body or the Government.
The panel suggested that the deer park in Cuttack must be shifted from its current location which is swampy and unhealthy for the inmates. Besides, there is no buffer space between the visitors and the animals. The Cuttack Municipal Corporation must make arrangement for an alternative site, it added.
The committee constituted in July last year submitted its report to Secretary, Forest and Environment Department RK Sharma recently.