Wild Life

Dhaka Zoo: Forced friendships and quick deaths

You expect to see animals in the zoo living in their enclosures designed to be as close to their natural habitat as possible. It is also supposed to be entertaining and educating. But when you go to the Bangladesh National Zoo in Mirpur, your heart will sink.

In almost every cage of the zoo, the captive animals look weak and sick. The way two thousand animals are maintained there would give you the impression that their lives mean nothing.   

Since establishment in 1974, the concept of zoo management has changed globally. But these concepts have never reached this zoo or the zoo keepers. Wild life experts say, the types of cages being used in the zoo are suitable for domesticated animals. The wild animals are given treatment by veterinary doctors—whose knowledge is limited to domestic animals.

The most striking example of how poorly the zoo is now being managed is seeing a sheep giving company to a lonely rhino. You can also see a deer as a companion to a lonely Bhutanese cow.

In another enclosure, you will see a herd of deer, an animal that grazes, penned in an arid field. The snakes slither in dust and dirt in their cages. Almost all animal pens are filled with filth. In short the zoo looks like a place where all animals are kept to die quickly.

More than 50 animals in the zoo are sick and at the end of their lives. Zoo authorities have marked several Bengal Tigers, Indian lions, Asian Black Bears, the only dingo dog and some other species as dying animals.  The salt water crocodile in the zoo is miraculously 85-years-old-- whereas their normal life span is 70 years at most. Birds in the aviary are in no better condition.

In 2011, Bangladesh government made a plan to redesign and renovate the entire zoo complex. An expert committee has accordingly prepared a master-plan to renovate the entire zoo complex. They also proposed to keep these animals in natural surroundings. But the government didn’t follow the recommendations. Till date the government remained stuck to its old policy and has been collecting species from different countries resulting in premature deaths of many animals, zoo sources said.

The Mirpur Zoo still gets around 30 lakh visitors a year. But if they continue to run it amid such negligence, the country would soon lose an invaluable recreation and research site. 


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