The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the authorities to take steps for appointing adequate staff at the National Zoo to take care of animals.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad termed as “genuine” the prayer made in a petition which sought to direct the authorities to fill up vacant posts of zoo keepers, assistant keepers, attendants, food distributor and chowkidar.
The plea also sought direction to the authorities to install proper medical equipment and diagnostic facilities and to set up a committee to investigate the death of animals at the National Zoological Park.
“The prayer seems to be genuine. The respondents are directed to take all possible steps to cure the deficiencies and also to appoint staff in the Zoo and pass a detailed speaking order with respect to the representation within two months. The PIL is accordingly disposed of,” the high court said.
The court passed the direction to the Central Zoo Authority, Director of the National Zoological Park, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Animal Welfare Board of India.
Petitioner Salek Chand Jain, through advocate J K Gupta, said due to lack of medical staff, animal keeper and non-availability of medical equipment and diagnostic facilities, the death rate of animals at the zoo was too high.
He claimed there is a huge shortage of staff at the zoo which is working with only 72 employees, including one veterinary officer, against 203 sanctioned posts.
“During the period of April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, there were causalities of 172 animals/ birds and from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, there were causalities of 124 animals/ birds,” the plea said.
It added that for the period from September 20, 2019 to December 18, 2022, 9 big cats species (white tigers, lion, lioness, jaguar and tigers) and their 3 cubs died.
“It was very shocking but the respondents never cared to set up a committee to investigate the cause of death of the big cats and their cubs,” the plea alleged.
The petitioner said he made several representations to the authorities for filling the vacancies, providing medical equipment and diagnostic facilities and for setting up an enquiry into the untimely death of animals in large numbers but did not get any response.
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