AS CHHATTBIR Zoo braces for summer holiday rush, here’s a word of advice from a top zoo official: respect the animals, don’t throw objects at them to get their attention, don’t yell at them or abuse them.
“If it is a sleeping hour for a tiger, or if it wants to stay inside the shelter, then visitors should understand its behaviour,” said Manish Kumar, field director of Mahendra Choudhary Zoological Park, popularly known as Chhattbir Zoo.
He asserts that most visitors conduct themselves well. “But still there are a few who should understand that animals have their comfort level as well and they are in their home while you are seeing them,” he said.
Sometimes people tend to get impatient when they are unable to see the animal moving or when animals retreat into the shelters inside their enclosures. But, Kumar said, family groups rarely take to shouting or throwing objects at the animals; the problem is more with large groups of young boys, or mixed groups of boys and girls.
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During a recent visit, a Chandigarh Newsline team saw visitors throw stones and sticks at the animals in the enclosures. Some were even swearing at the animals and yelling at them to “wake them up”.
Asked why he was doing this, a visitor replied: “I have paid money to see this hippopotamus, I have the right to wake it up.”
A crowd outside the jaguar’s enclosure was also yelling at the big cat to wake it up.
However, a noticeboard at the entrance states that “teasing animals or birds is strictly prohibited and punishable under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972”.
The caretakers at the enclosures say they warn people when they see them teasing the animals, but complain that many of them don’t take such warnings seriously.
“We increase the security on weekends when more visitors come. People who are seen doing inappropriate things are reported. Mostly they apologise after being told the consequences. Around 99 per cent of such problems are solved like this only but in rare cases when someone doesn’t listen to authorities then we call the cops, and we hand over the guilty to them. PCR vans patrol on weekends and we even have visitors’ management team which reaches the spot when reported about such action,” Kumar said.
Chhattbir is one of the biggest zoos in the country with over 950 animals and 85 different bird species and more than 100 enclosures.