The camel and the yak, the only remaining domestic animals at the Alipore Zoological Gardens, are condemned to seclusion, thanks to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which in 1995 instructed the zoo to remove domestic animals from exhibition.
Vipul Chakravarty, scientific officer of CZA, said over the telephone from New Delhi: “The Alipore zoo authorities are no longer keeping domestic animals as exhibits. Now, it is for them to decide what they will do with the camel and the yak.”
While the directive reached Alipore zoo in 1995, the authorities removed the camel and the yak as exhibits only a couple of years ago. “It is not that we didn’t want to remove these animals as exhibits. But we took time, as it was important to ‘create’ enclosures that would keep the two animals happy. Natural surroundings, where the camel and the yak could be kept in captivity, did not exist,” explained Subir Chowdhury, director of the Alipore Zoological Gardens.
Now, the two animals have been provided with enclosures that are lined with trees. There is plenty of sand in the camel’s enclosure, too, director Chowdhury pointed out.
The male camel was born at Alipore zoo in February 1994 and the female yak in 1984. These are two of the 368 mammals at the zoo. There are 1,348 birds and 79 reptiles at the zoo.
The CZA is not complaining for now. “It is true that the animals live in captivity, but the zoo authorities can set them free only if they find non-governmental organisations to help them out. We had suggested that some domestic animals, like ducks and rabbits, can be kept aside in a children’s corner, if that is possible,” CZA scientific officer Chakravarty added.
“The primary objective of the National Zoo Policy is conservation of wild animals and educating people by keeping them as exhibits. So, we allow only wild animals as exhibits,” explained P.R. Sinha, member secretary of the CZA.
Director Subir Chowdhury said the zoo was not planning to hand over the camel and the yak to any NGO. The higher authorities should decide what to do with the two.
The CZA, which came into being in 1992, made its first evaluation of the zoos, which applied to this body for recognition in 1993-94. Since the fate of the camel and the yak is uncertain, perhaps “the zoo authorities might have to keep them till they die,” said Chakravarty of the CZA.