The Byculla Zoo is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons since it announced the arrival f eight penguins as an attraction at the zoo. Animal activists have taken to the street asking how spending so much money makes sense in a state that is still trying to recover from the worst drought in years. Not to forget then Mumbai is not the right place for penguins.
According to the zoo, five male and three female Humboldt penguins will be brought in from Seoul, South Korea next month. The zoo was scheduled to have brought the birds in two years ago.
Anand Siva, animal activist, says, "What is the logic behind getting penguins to Mumbai? The state that the Byculla Zoo is in is not good for any animal, forget penguins. I think the basic research on how penguins live has not been conducted. Penguins are avid deep water swimmers and need 200-metre deep pools with ample space for them to complete their 3-4 mile swim everyday. You cannot put penguins in a baby pool and deny it the right to live!"
"Moreover, a penguin will require an extremely low temperature that will take a lot of electricity. Mumbai has to buy electricity from four states to survive each year. In case of a power and water shortage, will the government compromise on water and electricity for the people to keep the penguins alive?"
Today there are 200 people protesting against penguins in the zoo, how will the government react to 5 lakh people on the street when they are deprived of water and electricity?
The BMC has issued a statetment saying not much water will be used. Anand responds, "Does the BMC plan to put these 8 penguins in a baby pool and expect them to live?"
Talking about the deplorable condition that the zoo is in, Anand shares, "There is a water hole in the elephant's enclosure that is completely dry. This in the monsoon! The monkeys are running around with fleas and skin diseases in the absence of proper treatment. This zoo should be razed to the ground, not encouraged to buy more animals to add to its showcase."
Zoo director Dr Sanjay Tripathi told The Times of India that an agency will take care of the penguins for five years. "This agency maintains over 50 penguin facilities around the world. The protestors have wrong information about water usage," he said.
Dr Tripathi has also asked that if 122 zoos around the world have been able to keep and breed penguins in captivity around the world, why can't Byculla Zoo be the 123rd? To this, Anand Siva comments, "What kind of educated human would say that? The more animals zoos procure, the more demand is created for them. Why would you encourage breeding animals in captivity? Will it be okay if humans started breeding humans in captivity to be sold as slaves?"
"There is no logical way out of this debate. With every comment Dr Tripathi is making it worse for himself and the authorities."
Indiatimes tried to connect with Dr NN Singh of the Central Zoo Authority, that has okayed the penguins being brought to the Byculla Zoo, but were refused comment.