Darjeeling, June 21, 2017: Though the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling has thrown life out of gear for the people, the animals at the Darjeeling Zoo are having a whale of a time. The peace and tranquility that has engulfed the zoo sans the visitors has emerged as a major respite for the animals. So much so, that the zoo has started a behavioral study of the animals.
The zoo closed its gates to visitors since June 15, the day being a Thursday, the weekly closure day and also the day from which the GJM had clamped the indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling Hills.
"The animals housed in our zoo are mainly high altitude endangered species. At present there are no visitors to the zoo. The animals seem to be enjoying the quiet. They are in the best of health and spirits. We have started a study on the behavior of animals and our Biologist is recording data" stated Pyar Chand, Director, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling popular as the Darjeeling zoo.
During tourist season around 5000 tourists visit the Darjeeling zoo on any given day. The PNHZP was founded in 1958 and specializes in the captive breeding of endangered Himalayan species including Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf; Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr and Satyr Tragopan (crimson horned pheasant.)
The zoo houses 3 Royal Bengal Tigers, around 30 herbivores; over a hundred birds; leopards; Himalayan bear and Himalayan wolves.
"We have food for the animals in our stock. Till now there have been no problems. If the strike continues and our stock gets exhausted we will approach the administration for help. The animals need to be fed" added the Director.
Everyday 80 kg meat; 100 kg grass; 40 kg dry grain and 20 kg of seasonal fruits and vegetables are required to feed the animals. PNHZP is the pioneer zoo in India to have initiated the captive breeding programme of snow leopards. In 1986 this programme had been initiated with 4 snow leopards. At present there are 11 snow leopards in the Darjeeling zoo.
The PNHZP is also the coordinating zoo for the red panda breeding programme (Project Red Panda) in India. The project was initiated in 1990. The zoo houses 15 red pandas at present.