Visitors photograph a leopard at Tata zoo in Jamshedpur earlier this week. (Bhola Prasad)
The animals of Tata Steel Zoological Park are slowly becoming accustomed to a life minus human torment, thanks to sustained efforts by the zoo authorities.
Three continuous years of motivating visitors to refrain from teasing animals appears to have paid off with such incidents reducing dramatically, and no instances reported in the last three months.
“We are happy that animal teasing is less now. In fact, no incidents have been reported in the last three months,” zoo director Bipul Chakravarty told The Telegraph.
He said even on rush days, like for instance on the day of the Id holiday, no animal or bird faced trouble from the large number of visitors. “We thank our staff and school volunteers for this.” he added.
Students of JH Tarapore School played an active role in motivating visitors not to tease animals and birds. Their counterparts from Loyola too had joined the campaign. Besides, students from Jamshedpur Women’s College and Jamshedpur Co-operation have also been instrumental in minimising teasing.
Boards and signs put up at different places inside the zoo also helped. “The boards carry messages about the futility of teasing animals and also mentions the punishment involved,” Chakravarty said.
The zoo is home to 400-odd animals and birds, many of them exotic or endangered.
Of the inmates, leopards and monkeys are the most vulnerable to teasing. “We were very worried about the leopards and monkeys. Visitors have this habit of chucking stones at the leopards. They also throw chickpeas and fruits at the apes. As we can never be sure whether the food items contain anything poisonous or not, the monkeys are most at risk. However, now the situation has changed for the better,” the zoo director said.
The leopards are also soft targets as unlike Royal Bengal tigers and the five pure-bred African lions, the spotted creatures are not housed in big enclosures which are surrounded by moats.
“The leopards were targeted when they were out of their cells. We were helpless in tackling the situation,” a zoo staff said.
Chakravarty said he was observing a gradual improvement in the mindset of visitors towards the animals.
“There were incidents of animal teasing when I joined the zoo in 2009. But it gradually came down due to our motivation. People of Jamshedpur no longer want to hurt animals and that is a very positive signal,” he added.
Baridih-based Vimal Das, a zoo regular, said motivation on part of the zoo authorities had helped in bringing down animal teasing incidents. “My children also used to throw food or stones at animals. But now this has stopped. They have begun loving the captive creatures,” he added.