Davangere zoo cries for attention

The Indira Priyadarshini zoo at Anegodu near Davangere is in need of some serious attention. The zoo which was started in memory of former prime minister Indira Gandhi on November 19, 1993, doesn’t have too many animals, apart from a couple of peacocks, a bear and deer, and rabbits. The zoo, spread across five acres, has a swing and a slide for children.

In spite of being adjacent to the National Highway 4, the zoo is barely known to people outside the region. On an average, as many as 50,000 people visit the zoo, every year. The fee charged for adults is Rs eight, while for children, it is Rs three. According to the forest department sources, the zoo earns an average income of Rs two lakh per year. There were three bears in the zoo at one point in time, but two of them succumbed to pneumonia. At present, what draws people to the zoo are the nine peacocks.

Maintenance of hygiene is a principal problem in the zoo. “Compared to the Mysore and Dandeli zoos, this zoo is very small. There is a lack of basic amenities and space here. But what’s most lacking is political will,” rues Section Officer Radhakrishna.

Right next to the zoo is the national highway. Also close to the zoo is a power line, which, it is feared, will hamper safety of the animals.

Radhakrishna explains that a trekking path inside the zoo will draw more people, and added that the zoo can be a role model for the rest of the state, if steps are taken to improve it.

Problems of the zoo staff

While the zoo itself can be improved, the staff at the nursery here have their own problems. “We have been working here from 1993. But, we have not been retained here on a permanent basis. We are being told that we will be made confirmed employees for a while now. Earlier, our daily wage was Rs five, but that has been increased to Rs 60. It is high time we are made permanent employees,” explain Fathima and Halamma who work here.

“We get a grant of Rs 8.5 lakh annually. It is difficult to sustain the zoo on such resources. We want to bring tigers here, but we will have to spend at least Rs 50 to 60 lakh on that. We plan to draw up a Rs 23.48 lakh action plan towards the development of the zoo and submit it to the Zoo Authority soon. If people’s representatives and other dignitaries adopt animals on the lines of the Mysore zoo, development of this zoo too is possible, explains Deputy Conservator of Forests Hiralal.

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