Darjeeling unrest: Zoo makes use of strike, does animal study

“Visitors have stopped coming to the zoo. This is the time of peace and tranquility for animals. We have therefore initiated a programme to record their behaviour,’’ PNHZP’s director Pyar Chand said.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Darjeeling | Updated: June 22, 2017 6:12 am
darjeeling unrest, darjeeling violence, darjeeling zoo, gjm bandh, Bimal Gurung A red panda at the zoo in Darjeeling. (Photo by Partha Paul)

Darjeeling’s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) authorities are conducting a behavioural study of animals making the most of the indefinite strike there. Clashes and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s indefinite bandh call on June 15 following a police raid on its leader Bimal Gurung’s house has paralysed life in the region.

“Visitors have stopped coming to the zoo. This is the time of peace and tranquility for animals. We have therefore initiated a programme to record their behaviour,’’ PNHZP’s director Pyar Chand said. Chand added that the data collected will help them understand how animals behave and live in confinement when there is little to disturb them. “We are monitoring carefully each of the animals, especially Red Pandas and Snow leopards. The movements, time spent outdoors and even communication with each other are being recorded,’’ he said, adding that their food intake and anxiety levels are also being recorded.

Chand said that food supplies were diminishing fast. “We are not getting enough chicken. But we have good supply of beef. Grass, leaves and other food items for animals are being procured from the hills. Locals are also supporting us,” said Chand. Chand said that the zoo requires nearly 100 kg of meat, 80 kg fodder, 50-60 kg fruits, 50 kg grams, wheat and flour daily. “Actually we have stock of fruits, grams, wheat for the next few days. We have a ready source of fodder for herbivores as there are forests nearby,’’ said Chand. “But if the shutdown continues for a few more days, then arranging for such huge quantity of meat and fruits would be a problem.’’ Chand said that if the strike continues, they will seek help of the administration and political parties.

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