Guwahati, Feb 13 (UNI) The Assam state zoo authorities today downplayed PETA's move to approach the Central Zoo Authority for de-recognition of the State zoo, stating that it 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 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 it 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, ''PETA generally reacts on the basis of 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's 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. PETA maintained that such incidents could reccur due to loopholes in security measures and the 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 says. Mr Mahanta maintained that such incidents are very few and the behaviour of few people should not 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 zoo, are also initiating steps to conserve these natural resources.'' Over health conditions of the animals in the zoo, PETA pointed that a full grown rhino had died of anthrax on January 22 last, raising health hazards for the animals. The organisation urged the Central Zoo Authority to investigate the matter and initiate strict action against the zoo authorities if found negligent.
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