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Dhaka Zoo's excess crisis
Kausar Islam Ayon
The Dhaka Zoo spends over Tk. one crore a year to feed the excess number of animals in its collection.
That amount is almost 59 percent of the annual budget for feeding and maintenance of all animals at the zoo which is Tk 1 crore 68 lakh.
The Zoo now houses 22 lions, 16 tigers, 200 axis deer, seven hippopotamus, 28 pythons and some other species in excess.
"Four should be the maximum number for the each species like lion, tiger, hippopotamus and python while there should not be more than fifty deer," said Dr. N C Banik, deputy curator of Dhaka Zoo.
Zoo officials informed that they have some other animals like monkeys and different kinds of birds which have exceeded the capacity but carnivorous animals are posing more of a problem.
"The herbivorous animals and birds are not expensive to maintain but the carnivorous animals have become a burden for us," said Banik who added that all the extra additions were born inside the Dhaka Zoo.
On an average, a lion consumes food worth Tk. 750 a day, a tiger Tk. 900, a hippopotamus Tk.320 and a deer Tk. 20. A python's food intake is estimated at Tk. 220 a week.
The Zoo authorities are in a dilemma over what to do with the spare animals. Other zoos across the country are apparently not interested in acquiring them and Dhaka Zoo also does not have any exchange programme with any other zoo in the world.
"Recently we donated two pairs of lions and tigers to the Dulhazra Safari Park. We are also writing letters to zoos abroad offering animal exchange," said Mostafizur Rahman, curator of Dhaka Zoo.
To get rid of surplus axis deer, Dhaka Zoo is considering selling them at a reduced price.
"The present cost of an axis deer is Tk. 24,000. We have asked the concerned ministry to re-fix the rate at Tk. 15,000," said Banik.
Dhaka Zoo is not yet a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the world's largest association of Zoos.
"As we are a member of South Asian Zoo Association for regional cooperation (SAZARC) we are hopeful of getting WAZA membership soon as it has enlisted SAZARC. Once that process is completed, animal exchange would become easier," said the curator.
Exchange programmes are also necessary to enhance the zoo's diversity as these programmes would give Dhaka Zoo the chance to collect animals like kangaroos, giraffes, dolphins which it does not possess at the moment.
It will also provide the scope for bringing partners of the opposite sex for baboons, rheas, chimpanzees and water bucks.
"These animals have remained here without partners for years. They can become productive if we can arrange mates for them," said Banik.