PIL claims deaths of protected species suppressed by Delhi zoo

The Delhi High Court today sought response of the Centre on a PIL alleging “rampant irregularities and illegalities”, like suppression of deaths of protected species, in the administration of National Zoological Park in the city as well as the veterinary care being provided to the animals lodged there.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Deepa Sharma issued notice to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as well as the Central Zoo Authority and the National Zoological Park here and asked them what action they have taken in connection with the issues raised in the plea.

Animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi, in her petition, has referred to the Central Zoo Authority’s recent findings indicating death of a large number of animals from protected species, including langur and hog deer, at the Delhi Zoo and alleged that there was a total breakdown in the administration at the National Zoological Park, which was set up in 1959.

According to the petition, the Central Zoo Authority had also found that there was “suppression of the deaths through the submission of inaccurate inventory reports and fabricated post mortem reports”.

The other instances of alleged irregularities included capture of animals like monitor lizards and small Indian civets from the wild and “illegally placing them in the zoo to cover up the large number of deaths”, the plea, filed through advocate Mihir Samson, said.

The Authority had also found negligence in the medical care provided to the animals at the zoo, apart from “widespread use of expired medication as well as illegal procurement and missing stock of schedule X drug Ketamine, a notified psychotropic substance”, the petition said.

The plea has sought a direction to the ministry to establish an independent expert committee for oversight of the zoo as well as initiation of disciplinary and criminal action against all the erring staff working there.

The petition has also sought that the Central Zoo Authority’s reports and findings be adopted and implemented.

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