Guwahati, Feb 13 (UNI) Assam state zoo authorities today downplayed PETA's move to approach the Central Zoo Authority for de-recognition of the state zoo, stating that the zoo adhered to all rules and steps were being initiated to improve further. The state zoo faces a threat of de-recognition with the animal rights activist group People for Ethnic Treatment to Animals (PETA) approaching the Central Zoo Authority to review the safety norms in the zoo, after one visitor was mauled to death by a tiger and another hurt in a bear attack over the last two months.
Anuradha Sawney, chief functionary of the PETA, in a letter to the Member Secretary of the Central Zoo Authority in New Delhi yesterday, urged the latter to 're-examine the recognition of the zoo, and withdraw the recognition if the zoo continues to function in violation of the National Zoo Policy and Recognition of Zoo Rules'. Divisional Forest Officer of the state zoo Narayan Mahanta said, "The PETA generally reacts based on news items. They should not be of the view that the Central Zoo Authority does not inspect the facilities and conditions here." There were several problems previously, but we are improving and we plan to make the zoo even better, he added.
A visitor was mauled to death by a tiger on December 20 when the man had put in his hand into the tiger cage to click photographs from a 'closer range'. Another visitor was injured on February 7 when the person had jumped into the bear enclosure. The PETA maintained that such incidents could recur due to loopholes in security measures and the zoo authorities' wrong approach to educate visitors to develop empathy for the animals.
"They (the zoo) teach the visitors that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity bored, cramped, lonely and far from their natural homes, and this further leads the visitors to tease the animals for fun," the letter said. Mr Mahanta maintained that such incidents are very few and the behaviour of a few people should be generalised as all the visitors' attitude towards the animals. He said, "North East is a treasure trove of flora and fauna and we, at the oo, are also initiating steps to conserve these natural resources." Over health conditions of the animals in the zoo, the PETA pointed that a full grown rhino had died of anthrax on January 22 last, raising health hazards of the animals. The organisation urged the Central Zoo Authority to investigate the matter and initiate strict action on the zoo authorities if found negligent.
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