The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has sent a notice to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over construction of “selfie points” and an ice-cream shop inside the Veermata Jijabai Bhosle Udyan, popularly known as Byculla Zoo. The CZA has sought a “factual status report” from the civic body at the earliest.
The notice comes after the Plant & Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), Mumbai, an NGO working for animal welfare and environment protection, wrote to the CZA, drawing its attention to the construction of selfie points and an ice-cream shop inside the zoo.
“The selfie point is constructed inside Udyan’s precincts which leads to clamouring and ruckus by the visitors. On one hand the birds and animals live in pathetic condition and on the other man-made structures are constructed near the enclosures which disturbs their habitats,” reads the complaint sent by PAWS.
It added that an ice-cream shop has been constructed opposite the hippopotamus’ enclosure that not only creates noise and ruckus but also unhygienic conditions in and near the animal enclosures due to strewing of food and packaging waste.
Following the complaint, the CZA has sought a report from the zoo authorities. “You are requested to look into the matter and submit a factual status report at the earliest directly to complainant with intimation to this Authority for further necessary action,” reads the letter sent by Dr Brij Kishor Gupta, evaluation and monitoring officer of CZA, to Byculla Zoo.
Gupta said the CZA would examine if the structures are part of the approved master plan of the zoo revamp. “After the report is submitted to us, we will examine and see whether the selfie point and ice-cream shop are part of the master plan of the zoo before deciding on the further course of action,” Gupta told The Indian Express.
The zoo authorities have said that the selfie point does not affect the natural habitat of animals nor disturbs them. “There is no enclosure close to the selfie point. Hence, no question of disturbing the animals. These things are not part of the zoo’s master plan but they are part of garden development plan. We will submit a point-based reply to the CZA soon,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, zoo director.
PAWS has said that the city needs a zoo with animals, birds and reptiles in artificial environment. “We don’t want any selfie point, ice-cream shop or food court. If this is the concept of the BMC, then the CZA should de-recognise the zoo status as no CZA permission is required to run a selfie point, ice cream shop or a food court,” said Sunish Subramanian, secretary of the PAWS-Mumbai.
Last year, a controversy had erupted following the death of a one-and-a-half-year-old female penguin in the zoo on October 23 after a brief illness.