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Shifting the zoo: Hardly overnight job; over 100 species to be moved individually

Lucknow News : The shifting of the animals of the Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, Lucknow, to a new, bigger and better home in the Kukrail forest, will take some time.

There is the permission awaited from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) – the nodal body overseeing shifting of animals within the country – for the shift, even as the zoo authorities wait for the infrastructure to come up completely at Kukrail.

The task of shifting over 100 species of animals to their new home in Kukrail, is no mean task. For the first time, an entire zoo is being relocated in Uttar Pradesh.

On August 16, the state government had approved the shift in a cabinet decision, and now paperwork with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), will mark the beginning of this task.

“The entire shifting process will start with a proposal to the CZA that is the authority to permit shifting of animals or even exchange of animals between two zoos in India, before anything else is done” said VK Mishra, the zoo director.

The process is tedious but will certainly give a more spacious home to the animals. The present campus at the Hazratganj is spread across 29-hectares and the new campus will be over 60-hectare or 150 acres.

“This will definitely give better and bigger space to animals. For visitors too, moving around in a bigger area will be a great experience,” said Abhiyansh Shukla, a Class 7 student and a wildlife enthusiast. Shukla has also authored the book ‘One and half years’ focusing on the pandemic from a child’s perspective.

The zoo was established in 1921 and till 1950 it ran under various trusts and bodies before coming under an advisory committee of the public health department and director, medicine and health, being made its administrator. In 1966, its administrative control was given to the Forest Department.

A long process

Once permission from CZA is obtained, an entirely new zoo will be developed at Kukrail forest with bigger enclosures providing more comfort to the animals occupying them. The lions’ den, snake house, wildlife hospital, toy train, food court, aquarium, and various other places will be built in accordance with the standards laid down for zoos by the CZA.

Enclosures will be built not only for the animals that are currently living on the zoo campus but additional enclosures for those animals in the plan to be brought in future will also be built before these animals are actually brought here.

The next stage will be to decide upon shifting where the forest department will set up an expert committee that will decide shifting, said a senior forest official. “The shifting of each animal will be planned individually and not in a group or cluster. It has to be ensured that each animal is shifted without any harm, physically or emotionally,” said the official.

A route map along with a plan for shifting animals from each enclosure will be drawn and could be spread across days. This will be to ensure nothing goes wrong while shifting. Before shifting the entire diet plan and food supply will be ensured.

The zoo is home to mammals, birds, and reptiles, and thus shifting is a tough task which will be planned threadbare. Officials said the shifting will be done only when infrastructure is fully developed at Kukrail.

“The vegetation and ecology is almost the same at the two places hence change of place is not a thing to worry about. We have time so specific plants/trees if needed can be planned,” said the zoo director.

Outsourcing an option

Apart from forest officials who will plan and decide on the shifting of animals from the present zoo to new one, experts from outside, experienced in shifting of animals, may also be engaged.

Officials said that since there are reputed agencies involved in the shifting of animals between one zoo in India or in other countries to another zoo they might be roped in to ensure best practices and best equipment for shifting.

As the forest department does not shift animals on a routine basis hence the department does not keep equipment/infrastructure for shifting animals collectively. Therefore, outsourcing the shifting of animals could be an option which will be decided by a committee.

Name change

In the year 2001, the zoological park was changed from ‘Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens Trust’ to ‘Lucknow Zoological Garden’. In 2015, its name was again changed. It was then christened ‘Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, Lucknow’.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by GOVT.in staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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