The Delhi zoo has written a third letter to Central Zoo Authority and the Union environment, forest and climate change ministry, seeking action against the zoo veterinary officer and stating that the well-being of the animals was in danger under his care.
In the latest letter dated July 12, written by the zoo director, it was alleged that a blue bull (nilgai) had died due to medical negligence.
The letter, which has been accessed by TOI, cited a report submitted by A K Bhowmik, the former joint director of the Delhi zoo, stating that the protocol laid down was not followed during the nilgai’s treatment by the veterinary officer, Dr Abhijit Bhawal. “As per the report, the medication was not provided keeping in view the safety and health condition of the animal. The medical treatment was stopped from 2pm, though the animal was still alive and needed medical attention till its death at 5.05pm. Tampering of record has also been observed once again.”
The letter also highlighted that the veterinary officer did not rush to provide urgent medical care to the animal, even after he was informed by the zoo staff. “The evidence and circumstances also point out towards the fact that an animal that was alive was declared dead by the officer.”
Claiming that this was not an isolated incident, the authority has sought disciplinary action against him and even suspension. “I am afraid the well-being of animals of the zoo is in danger under the medical supervision of the veterinary officer,” the director wrote.
The findings of a recent central committee appointed by Delhi high court to look into the irregularities at the zoo, too, had found the officer guilty on multiple charges, including laxity in inspection and maintenance of records, negligence in taking care of animals and administering expired medicine to animals.
According to the zoo administration, it doesn’t have the statutory authority to fire the veterinary officer as only the inspector-general (wildlife) under the ministry is empowered to relieve officers. “This is the third letter sent in recent months for action to be taken and the high death count can also be attributed to following improper practices,” said a zoo source.
Despite repeated attempts, the veterinary officer was not available for comments.
A recent census of the zoo has found a mortality rate of 20% — four times higher than the standard mortality rate at zoological parks.