Sir — Jayprakash Bezbaruah of Sivsagar met his tragic end when he got too close to the caged tigers at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati (“Camera-wielding hand inside fence, tigers pounce to kill”, Dec 20). The incident must have been traumatic not only for Bezbaruah’s family but also for the other visitors at the zoo who had to watch helplessly the macabre sight of the tiger attack. Had the zoo personnel prevented Bezbaruah from crossing the first barricade to the main enclosure, he might not have died such a gruesome death. As such, the incident points to glaring lapses in security at the zoo. It is not enough to put barriers in front of the cages. Close circuit televisions and public address systems need to be installed in zoos across the country. Visitors should also be fined or punished for crossing over the boundary. The fear of punishment would act as a safeguard for visitors and animals alike. For, the animals in the zoos need as much protection as the humans who come to watch them.
Subhankar Mukherjee, Burdwan
Sir — On a recent visit to the Alipur zoo, I watched in horror as the men made faces and shouted at the tigers. Some even threw sticks at the animals. I felt that these men should try to imagine what it feels like to be on the other side of the bars. There has been a lot of debate lately on the ethicality of the concept behind zoos — that of putting up animals as exhibits. Even if zoos are not banned altogether, men need to be taught, or made, to respect the animals they are watching.
Ravindra Kumar, Calcutta
Sir — Although I feel sorry for the bereaved family of Jayprakash Bezbaruah, I believe visitors to zoos often treat the animals in an inhuman way. The animals react violently when they are irritated beyond endurance. Bezbaruah should have known better than troubling the tigers by trying to film them from close. A few days back, a chimpanzee, disturbed by the antics of its viewers, scratched a visitor at the Alipur zoo. Judging by the way men behave towards the animals, they too should be put in cages. Mobile vans, with visitors locked inside them, can then take them close to the animals.
Gomathy Selvaraj, Calcutta
Sir — I have never believed in the practice of dragging animals out of their natural habitat and making them prisoners in an environment they are unused to, be it a zoo or a travelling circus. Being unable to voice their grievances, the pent up anger of the creatures often finds expression in incidents such as the one in the Guwahati zoo.
Priyabrata Chowdhury, Calcutta
Sir — The fate of Jayprakash Bezbaruah proves, among other things, the way in which men become unnecessarily audacious when they are out on tours. Bezbaruah was on a vacation with his family in Guwahati when the tigers mauled him at the zoo. There was no need for him to show his bravado by trying to film the tigers at close hand. It is tourists like him, who take risks for no reason, who get washed away by tidal waves or drown in rivers or fall into ravines. When men leave their homes for holidays, a strange recklessness seems to get hold of them, making them break laws. Excess of anything, as we all know, is bad.
Abhirup Sen, Calcutta
Sir — Rupa Bezbaruah, the wife of Jayprakash Bezbaruah, says that her husband has visited the Guwahati zoo 40 times, “such was his passion for animals and wildlife” (“Husband in jaws of death”, Dec 21). I was shocked on reading this. How can a man, who professed to be an animal lover, visit the zoo and that too 40 times? People who visit zoos give their implicit support to the practice of putting animals in cages. It is a ghastly and inhuman practice that no wildlife enthusiast should support. Animals in zoos across India are even more unfortunate than those in other countries of the world because of the general lack of concern among the zoo personnel for the task they are assigned.
Sumon Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — We elected a woman as our president and shouted from the rooftops about our progressiveness in doing so. But women continue to be treated as second-class citizens in the country, notwithstanding a Pratibha Patil or a Sonia Gandhi at the Centre. The first woman in the Indian police service, Kiran Bedi, allegedly got sidelined by a junior in the race for the Delhi police commissioner’s post. The writer, Taslima Nasreen, is being hounded by Muslim fundamentalists because the government is too afraid to deal with them. Every minute a girl is kidnapped, raped or murdered somewhere in India. The lot of women will not improve if women in positions of power remain interested only in serving their own interests.
M.M. Kale, Kakinada