By Divya Gandhi
In a letter to the Principle Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), animal welfare organisation Humane Society International-India has complained about the ill-treatment of elephants at Mysore zoo.
A video sent to the NGO captured the “inhumane beating and chaining” of elephants at the zoo, the organisation alleged. Recorded on 27 September by a visitor to the zoo, the video shows a zoo employee hitting two elephants with a rod, including a young elephant whose forelegs are shackled in chains. “In addition to being inhumane, unnecessary and painful, beating or kicking an animal amounts to cruelty and is an offense under Section 11(1) (a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and is punishable,” says Alokparna Sengupta, Deputy Director, Humane Society International-India.
Chaining elephants in such a manner is also a violation of the Central Zoo Authority guidelines for the upkeep of elephants in zoos. “An elephant can be chained only on one leg, if it needs to be chained at all,” she added.
The Central Zoo Authority, in a directive issued on 7 November, 2009, had banned keeping elephants in zoos across the country with “immediate effect,” the letter stated. “I would also like to encourage you to follow the directive issued by the Central Zoo Authority by phasing out the keeping of elephants in Mysore zoo,” Ms. Sengupta said in the letter.
Mysore zoo director B.P. Ravi said it was a “one-off incident”. He said he had instructed animal-keepers, supervisors, doctors and the curator at the zoo at a special meeting. “The keeper involved in the incident was identified and warned,” he said.