Stop breeding of leopards, tigers in zoos: CZA

Stop breeding of leopards, tigers in zoos: CZA

Space constraints push Authority to issue orders

Stop breeding of leopards, tigers in zoos: CZA

The rise in the number of leopards and tigers at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) and Rescue Centre has caught the attention of the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZA).

The CZA has dashed off letters not only to the BBP and the Forest department but also to all zoos across the country to stop breeding of leopards, hybrid lions, tigers and common ungulates.

The CZA forwarded the letter on August 6 and the BBP officials received it on August 10. It is signed by B S Bonal, CZA member-secretary, and Inder Dhamija, DIG (HQ), New

Space constraints

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Bonal said, “It has been cited that many rescued leopards and tigers are housed in zoos. It is good, but these animals are occupying a lot of space and now if they are used for breeding, this will lead to the problem of housing their offsprings. This is why these orders have been issued. It is a temporary order and is a management decision.”

Veterinarians and experts point out that the BBP had become more like a rehabilitation and breeding centre than a zoo.

Officials are seen concentrating more on offsprings and rescued animals than other zoo animals, they added.

The BBP presently houses 32 leopards and 36 tigers, including both rescued and circus animals. Of the 32 leopards, 13 are in cages and on display for visitors. The rest are housed in the rescue centre as they are wild.

In the case of tigers, four are wild and not meant for public view. The remaining animals are kept in various enclosures. A maximum of seven tigers, on a rotation basis, are displayed at any given point in time.

Elephants not mentioned

However, there is no mention of elephants in the letter. Their breeding is not curtailed, as many wild ones roam in the vicinity of Bannerghatta National Park.

The BBP is spread across 750 hectares, of which 15 hectares are occupied by the rescue centre. People are not allowed inside. In all, the park houses over 1, 200 animals, including herbivores, carnivores, birds and vertebrates.

Bannerghatta Biological Park Director Range Gowda said, “We do not use all the animals for breeding. Only the rescued wild animals are used for breeding and not the ones rescued from circuses. Also, this was happening only occasionally. We are also exchanging animals for breeding. Recently, we exchanged two Bengal tigers for a white tiger from Tirupati Zoo because the female white tiger here was old and unfit for breeding. Breeding of rescued circus lions has been stopped. All have been sterilised. However, now the orders will be followed.”