ONE of the seven Humboldt penguins, Bubble, who is yet to find a mate, will have to wait for at least another seven months before the Byculla Zoo authorities can obtain the necessary approvals to bring another penguin in place of the one that died about a year ago. Apart from getting approvals from various government agencies, the zoo is waiting for renewal of its licence from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which recently conducted a visit of the premises.
While the Byculla zoo authorities had demanded a replacement for the female penguin that died of bacterial infection in October last year, officials said they could not bring more of the flightless birds until the CZA renewed the annual licence of the zoo. “The evaluation officer from the CZA conducted a visit of the zoo on October 15 and checked if the recommendations they had made last year, like upgrading hospital facilities and the feed distribution facilities, have been implemented. They will take about a month to submit a report and then renew the zoo’s licence for another year,” said Sanjay Tripathi, the Director of Byculla zoo.
Other than the renewal of the licence, senior civic officials said they needed to get approvals from seven other departments and agencies, including the animal husbandry department, the chief wildlife warden in Nagpur, director general of foreign trade, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Ministry of Agriculture, the wildlife department and the Quarantine Control Authority. The renewal and approvals might take seven months, according to the officials.
While the zoo authorities had written to the Goatrade Farming Company, the procurement agency to provide one female penguin, the officials are now planning to bring three others. “Penguins live in colonies and the group of seven kept at the Byculla zoo may not accept a single penguin. We are thus planning to bring three so that Bubble can choose a mate among them,” the official said.
The BMC had in 2016 brought eight Humboldt penguins from South Korea, all between one and three years of age and weighing between 1 kg and 2.5 kg with a life expectancy of around 20-25 years. The civic body has already spent Rs 45 crore on the project, which includes the cost of purchasing the penguins, setting up the enclosure and maintenance for five years.