More than 15 zoos in the country will be closed down, as these zoos lack proper facilities and are not fit to be continued, said B S Bonal, Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority, here on Monday.
He was delivering the key-note address at a five day all India zoo directors workshop organised by Ministry of Environment of Forests, Central Zoo Authority (CZA), Zoo Authority of Karnataka and Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens.
There were around 500 zoos in the country, before CZA was established. After CZA took shape, the numbers came down to 195, out of which 95 per cent are with the forest department. The priority of zoos have changed from entertainment to conservation, he said.
“In the West, linking between ex-situ and in-situ conservation sites (such as zoos) are difficult, as zoos are not managed by the Forest department. Even though, such linkage is successful in India, we still have a long way to go in emulating the success of conservation seen in zoos of the West,” he said.
Even though CZA has closed more than 300 zoos in the country in the past, there are several applications to open new zoos in the country. “Despite the growing number of applications, no zoo can be established without consent from CZA and an order by the Supreme Court of India,” he said.
Currently, there were 11 large zoos (up from seven in 2009), 27 medium zoos (up from 16) and 36 small zoos in the country, he said.
Speaking on Conservation-Breeding programme, a flagship programme by CZA, he said that efforts are being made to conserve 73 endangered species in the country.
“The programme has achieved notable success in the case of snow leopards, red pandas, pangolins, mouse deer and others. A total of 23 breeding programme of various species are currently being taken up. 26 species have also been identified as ‘priority species’ for the programme,” he said.
He said that a lot of research on the endangered species in the country has been possible, due to the programme.
Noting that vulture population in the country had seen a rapid decline due to various factors, he said that a conservation breeding programme of the bird was crucial in the survival of the species.
Zoos today need to have more open areas and naturalistic setting for animals, even if zoo visitors complained of not getting a closer look of the animals, he said.