Monday, August 14th, 2006
Ranchi, INDIA – Mystery has deepened over the death of six big cats at the zoo here with an anonymous letter to the government claiming that the animals were infected deliberately so their body parts could be sold.
According to Birsa Munda Zoological Park zoo authorities, five of the dead animals, including a leopard, died of Babesiosis disease while a tigress died on Aug 9 from an unknown ailment.
“We are clueless about the death of Jyotsana, the tigress,” said Deepak Singh, director of the zoo.
What raised suspicions is an anonymous letter addressed to Jharkhand Chief Secretary M.K. Mandal. The letter, saying the big cats had been infected so their body parts could be sold, has created a storm in the forest department. An internal inquiry has been ordered.
Said forest department secretary N.N. Pandey: “The chief secretary has received the letter which says that the tigers were killed intentionally. If needed, the carcasses will be exhumed and burnt.”
The suspicion is due to the method of disposal of the carcasses of the big cats.
According to Central Zoo Authority (CZA) norms, the dead animals should be burnt. But here the dead big cats were buried at an undisclosed place to prevent the spread of disease.
The zoo authorities pointed out that they do not have incinerator and hence the animals were buried.
“The internal inquiry will remove any suspicion. In my view the letter is far from the truth and the move is just to create panic and discredit the zoo authorities,” a forest official told IANS.
Meanwhile, six big cats, including five lions and one tiger, were shifted from the zoo here to the Indira Gandhi Zoological Center at Vishakhapatnam in the wake of the killer disease claiming the animals here.
Birsa Munda Zoological Park had 19 big cats. Six of them died between July 9 and Aug 9.
With six animals shifted, the zoo is left with only seven big cats – five lions, one tigress and one leopard.