The death of a seven-year-old female chinkara at the National Zoological Park early Tuesday morning is the latest flashpoint in a tussle over who the primary veterinarian at the zoo is. Zoo vet officer Dr Abhijeet Bhawal has alleged that on November 10, he was not allowed inside the premises by the zoo security to treat the chinkara, which was due to deliver a baby. The chinkara, one of the three at the zoo, gave birth to a stillborn baby on November 10, and died in its sleep due to a cardiac arrest at 3.15 am on November 13.
As per an office order dated November 3, Bhawal was “directed to attend a training of one month at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) from November 12-December 12”.
The letter, signed by zoo director Renu Singh, also directs Bhawal to “hand over charge to Dr Vikash Kumar Jayaswal on November 9”. When contacted, zoo curator Riaz Khan said, “The charge has not yet been handed over to Jayaswal as Bhawal has not gone for the training he was directed to go to.”
In a letter to the zoo director, accessed by The Indian Express, Jayaswal has written that “at 10.45 am on Wednesday, Bhawal came to the hospital and took away the post-mortem register, chinkara treatment card and carcass disposal certificate” from him.
Bhawal alleged that he wasn’t allowed to enter the zoo premises on November 10. “On Wednesday, I went to the zoo to take the post-mortem register to see what treatment was given to the chinkara… it’s my right as a vet officer of the zoo, and I will return it on Thursday,” he told The Indian Express.
Singh, who is on leave, did not respond to calls and messages. According to Khan, there is “no written order restricting Bhawal’s entry to the zoo”.
On Wednesday, consulting vet at the Delhi zoo, Dr Shamsher Bahadur, who treated the chinkara, also wrote a letter to Singh alleging that Bhawal is “creating hindrances in the normal working of treatment of zoo animals”.
The letter states: “On November 14, after treating lioness Akila… I started recording the treatment in beat register. Dr Abhijeet reached the spot and started talking in a derogatory language and started making entries in the beat register. I objected because he was supposed to join his training programme.”
Bahadur has also alleged that “the compounder and Jayaswal refused to accompany me for the treatment of zoo animals”.