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350 animals in Darjeeling zoo face shutdown heat

With supplies drying up, officials apprehensive about how to arrange food for the animals if the indefinite shutdown continues for a few more days

Image Credit: AFP
Student supporters of the GJM light candles as they take part in a peace march to pay respect to those killed in clashes with police in Darjeeling.
Gulf News

Darjeeling: More than 350 animals and birds of a specialised zoo located in Darjeeling, known for its conservation and breeding programmes of highly endangered species, are facing the heat of the ongoing shutdown with food supplies fast drying up. The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), popularly known as Darjeeling Zoo, is known for its conservation and breeding programmes of Red Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and endangered animal species of eastern Himalayas. It houses animals of 49 species.The inhabitants of the zoo ranges from mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

But with the supplies drying up, officials of this largest high altitude zoo in the country, are apprehensive about how to arrange food for the animals if the indefinite shutdown continues for a few more days.

Zoo director Piar Chand said, on a daily basis the zoo requires nearly 100kg of meat, 80kg fodder, 50-60 kg fruits, 50kg chick peas, wheat and flour.

“Actually we have stock of fruits, chick peas, wheat for the next few days. We have a ready source of fodder for herbivores as there are forests nearby. But if the shutdown continues for a few more days, then arranging for such huge quantity of meat and fruits would be a problem,” Chand told PTI.

Chand said, “meat is being supplied by few locals but supply of chicken has completely stopped”.

While taking about alternative route to arrange food, Chand said, “If the shutdown continues, then we will take the help of administration and political parties in the hills to arrange for supply of fresh food. We can’t let the animals fast”.

Chand said, with the shutdown on for the last five days the zoo revenue has also been hit.

Darjeeling zoo is also a member of ZIMS (zoological information management system), which is a trustee organisation for conservation of animals from the Asian region.

Meanwhile, security forces were on high alert and internet services remained suspended, though no incidents of violence were reported in Darjeeling hills till 9.30am on Monday.

“The situation is still very tense. Since morning there has been no incident of violence but we are on high alert and prepared for any eventuality,” a senior police official said.

Internet services remained suspended and security forces were patrolling the streets on the fifth day of the total shutdown, called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland.

The internet services were blocked in Darjeeling since Sunday morning.