Video shows handler thrashing chained jumbos at Mysore zoo

Video shows handler thrashing chained jumbos at Mysore zoo

A video shot by a tourist at the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens here and uploaded on YouTube shows a zookeeper angrily thrashing two chained elephants.

 The incident has angered animal protection groups but zoo authorities dismissed it as an “isolated” occurrence. 

In the video uploaded by a man named Steven Heath on September 29, a zookeeper is seen thrashing two elephants. The video (
v=HLNoraHKbzs& shows an elephant being chained in both the legs and then thrashed by the zookeeper. As per the guidelines, “an elephant can be chained only in one leg, if at all it needs to be chained.” 

The video was forwarded to Human Society International (HSI), India, a global animal protection group, which then made a complaint to the Forest department, demanding disciplinary action against the zookeeper. 

Alokparna Sengupta, deputy director of HSI, Hyderabad, said in the complaint, “In addition to being inhumane, unnecessary and painful, beating or kicking an animal amounts to cruelty and is a punishable offence under Section 11(1) (a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.” She said that the video also highlighted violation of Central Zoo Authority (CZA) guidelines which prohibited chaining elephants. 

The CZA, in a directive issued on November 7, 2009, has banned elephants from zoos across the country, Sengupta said and urged the authorities to phase out elephants from the Mysore Zoo and shift them to animal care centres. 

Responding to HSI’s complaint, B P Ravi, executive director of Mysore Zoo, said that it was an “isolated” incident and regretted it. He said the management had taken note of the incident. At a special meeting of animal keepers, supervisors, curators and doctors, all the concerned were “suitably instructed” to act responsibly. The zookeeper involved in the incident had been warned, Ravi said. But Sengupta termed the response “unsatisfactory”. 

No provision for warning

She insisted that there was no provision for warning zookeepers under Section 11(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and Section 38 (J) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. She demanded disciplinary and criminal action against the offender. Ravi had this to say, “The elephants were not hit by an iron rod, but by a bamboo stick. The zookeeper in question is one of the best keepers at the zoo,” he said. 

On the elephant calf being chained in both the legs, he said that seven of the eight elephants were unchained. “The elephant calf was displaying rogue behaviour and had to be chained to be disciplined. The chains were removed after a while,” he said. 

On phasing out the elephants, he said that the CZA had permitted some zoos in the country to keep elephants, following elaborate tests carried out on their health. 

“The CZA found that elephants are in good health and allowed us to keep them,” he said. 

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