Prayer for the dying: shut down zoo at Byculla

Prayer for the dying: shut down zoo at Byculla, shift animals elsewhere 

 

Backed by friends, 15-yr-old writes to CJ about how HC order is being ignored 

 

Kavitha Iyer

 

Mumbai, March 19: WHEN a sixth grader simply asks, shining-eyed, if you’re a vegetarian, if you love animals and if you have any pets, the most toughened meat-connoisseur feels some discomfort. But not the authorities at the civic-run Byculla zoo, it seems.

 

So, after getting no response to two earlier missives—one to zoo authorities and the other to the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court—15-year-old Nishiki Bhavnani decided to write another plea to the chief justice again, seeking that the zoo simply be shut down.  

 

“Dear Mr Chief Justice,” Nishiki says in her letter dated February 19, “please can you order to shut down the zoo and move all the animals to better facilities as even though the Honorable High Court of Bombay had given an order in July 2005 to improve the conditions in the zoo, there has been no improvement in the daily lives of the animals…”

 

Supporting her are four others, all animal lovers and part of 19-strong Concern for Animals, an initiative Nishiki launched. “How can anybody find a zoo visit interesting or entertaining?” asks Sharmin Segal, a sixth-grader with four stray dogs at home. “It’s a depressing place.”

 

From rats eating meat meant for a leopard to a caretaker beating an elephant tied by three legs, from visitors throwing stones at monkeys to a skin-and-bones lioness, Nishiki, Sharmin, Shivani Mehta (Grade IX), Trisha Vohra (Grade IX) and Atharva Patel (Grade VI) have enclosed their meticulously taken notes, reports and some startling photographs with the letter to the chief justice.

 

For Nishiki, a volunteer with People for Ethical Treatment of Animals since 2005, it all started a year and half ago when she chose to do an after-school activity on cruelty to animals. Through a series of “distressing” visits to the Veermata Jijabai Zoo, she found that Mumbai, for all its aspirations to global status, couldn’t give animals in captivity anything close to a natural habitat.

 

“Every single rule is flouted,” she says, explaining why she began her signature campaigns. The first one saw 550-plus people undertaking not to visit the zoo until the July 2005 court directives were implemented. The signatures reached the zoo, but nobody responded.

 

“The other campaign was among school children across Bombay,” says Sharmin. These nearly 400 signatures made it to an earlier letter Nishiki sent to the chief justice, in October 2006.

 

Perhaps nobody’s paying heed because they’re just kids? “But we are children, we don’t lie and stuff,” says Nishiki. “So they should take us seriously, right?”

 

Elephants are suffering…

They were all tied, two of them were tied up outside the stall and one was tied up inside. There was a man standing near this enclosure who told me that the elephant who was tied up inside was a male and he had been kept tied like this for the last year and a half as the zoo staff could not manage him… Why should an elephant be in captivity when they can be seen so often all over the city? …

 

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=227531

 

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