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HomeIndiaGovernanceDelhi zoo director ‘confirms’ animal deaths are being covered up, records fudged

Delhi zoo director ‘confirms’ animal deaths are being covered up, records fudged

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In letter to environment ministry, Renu Singh accuses her staff of carrying out illegal activities. Letter was written after plea in Delhi high court.

New Delhi: The Delhi zoo director has written a damning letter to the environment ministry acknowledging allegations that deaths of animals were being suppressed and records fudged.

The letter, accessed by ThePrint, was written days after the Delhi High Court sought a report from the Modi government over several deaths of protected animals in the zoo.

But there has been no apparent action on the letter even though it was sent more than three months back.

Renu Singh, the director of the National Zoological Park (NZP) — the official name of the Delhi zoo — wrote to the ministry on 30 May, accusing a senior officer of “tampering of records” and carrying out illegal activities.

Her letter was written five days after the court summoned the Central government in connection with the case.

Singh also alleged that the officer was “tampering and destroying the office records in view of the recent PIL filed” in the high court.

In May, a two-judge bench of the high court had directed the ministry of environment, forest and climate change to file an affidavit on the steps being taken against the Delhi zoo, which the ministry is yet to do.

Despite repeated attempts by ThePrint Singh did not respond to requests for comment for this report. Responding to queries from ThePrint, the environment ministry said it could not comment on the issue since the matter is sub-judice.

Probe report indicted zoo officials

The alleged irregularities and illegalities in the administration and veterinary care, which are now under the scanner of the court, were first brought to light by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a government body headed by the environment minister.

As reported first by ThePrint, an inquiry panel constituted under the CZA in August 2017 had indicted six officers and employees of the NZP for “misconduct and criminal offences”.

Also read: First penguin born in India dies within a week at Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo

Mysterious deaths, no post-mortems, illegal capturing and housing of animals, manipulation of records and criminal conspiracy — these were some of the crimes that the zoo authorities were accused of.

In what appears to echo the accusations levelled against the zoo officials, Singh in her letter to the inspector general of forest at the environment ministry, has said that post-mortems of several animals were not carried out, and that the post-mortem register appears to be “manipulated and records tampered with”.

The letter 

“I was shocked when I came to know one day during my routine visit within the Zoo that one Daily Wage Labourer named Mr. Prakash has been carrying out job of Veterinary Compounder in the zoo and was doing dressing of wounds and injuries of captive animals and also administering medicine,” she wrote.

Singh has also confirmed that the NZP did submit a false statutory inventory report to the CZA, an allegation also made by the central authority.

“No action has been taken in light of the letter written by the director,” a CZA official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“Animals are dying at an alarming rate, and nobody is doing anything,” the official added.

Also read: ‘Shocking and startling facts’ revealed about the Delhi Zoo in a govt report

Activists have come down heavily on zoo authorities for their alleged negligence and lack of action against erring officials.

“The National Zoological Park is a national embarrassment for wildlife conservation,” said animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi, on whose plea the court gave its directions.

“No action is being taken against errant officers and they are being allowed to kill animals and destroy records, despite so many complaints by statutory authorities,” she added.

Maulekhi also alleged there is “neither temperament nor willingness” to develop the NZP into a centre for conservation and education.

“It remains little more than a circus where wild animals are exhibited for entertainment of mobs till they are teased to death,” she said.

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