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The Financial Express

OPINION

Offer to sell animals of a zoo


-Representational image -Representational image

A news report published recently in the print media has, evidently, confused a lot of people. The news item says the Bangladesh National Zoo in Dhaka has taken an initiative aimed at selling its excess animals. The news says, in the recent times the zoo has seen a remarkable rise in its animal population. Most of them, especially the deer, were born in the large zoo. It was learnt that they would welcome people who would approach them to purchase a few species of animals. The confusion, bewilderment to be precise, has been created by a law in force regarding zoos. Under the age-old law, sale of all kinds of zoo animals, including birds, is prohibited. Not long ago, a common media report would quite often inform the readers about seizure of deer or rare animal species from private possession. Those animals were allegedly smuggled out of the zoo by syndicates. They comprised professional wildlife traffickers as well as unscrupulous staff at the zoo.

Against this backdrop, lots of animal lovers have been taken aback after reading the invitation offer to purchase animals born and reared in the zoo. Some people undoubtedly got delighted. They belonged to the group of the lovers of wildlife species. The appeal was especially aimed at the intending buyers willing to purchase deer and other animals. At this point, one might feel tempted to have a look at the zoo scenario across the country, the number and variety of animals in these animal corners. In Bangladesh, every district town has to abide by the provision for having a full-fledged zoo. As could be expected, the largest zoo, known as Dhaka national zoo, used to draw thousands of visitors in the pre-pandemic times. During the countrywide corona lockdown, this zoo was also declared closed like the others in the country. After reopening of this zoo, people by their hundreds began to throng the venue. The number continues to rise by the day. The National Zoo has developed from the small 'animal corner' situated on the former High Court premises. The mini-zoo was set up in 1950. It was shifted to the present sprawling venue at Mirpur in 1974.

Given its populations of four-footed animals, reptiles and birds and the richness of their variety, the Bangladesh National Zoo can be compared with its counterparts in the big cities in South Asia. Unfortunately, barring the Chattogram Zoo and a few, the plight of zoos in many district headquarters of Bangladesh is veritably miserable. Many do not have the major attractions of a zoo --- the Royal Benglal Tiger, elephants, the all-too-common deer, crocodiles, pythons, bears, wolves etc. Giraffes, zebras, ostriches etc remain mostly elusive to these humble district zoos. Invariably, the average zoos are kept vibrant by the clamorous rhesus monkeys, with the large numbers of people crowding their iron cages.  A few rare bird species, wildcats and wild boars may be found in some. A most startling feature of some of these smaller zoos is the absence of deer. A pertinent question crops up here. At a time when the Sundarbans and some other forests remain filled with the spotted deer, the fact that some of the country's zoos do not have this animal appears to be grotesque. What makes the situation filled with sheer absurdity is the National Zoo authorities' offer to sell deer to the interested persons.

The zoos in the country have many limitations. Many do not have the necessary funds needed for maintaining a zoo. Many also cannot afford to procure common animals. In such cases, the national wildlife authorities can arrange transfer of the deer in excess at the National Zoo to the smaller ones. It will be lauded as great service.

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