The death of twelve tigers at the Nandan Kanan Zoological Park near Bhubaneshwar has once again brought the focus back to the appalling conditions in Indian zoos. It also raises questions about the wisdom of breeding animals in captivity, which, more than often, leads to inbreeding. As a result you get the numbers. But these are also animals with a very low immunity, living in an unhealthy environment.
Enough to raise the hackles of any animal lover. "It is a huge tragedy. But I blame it on human error. The zoos in India are ill-equipped and under-funded and the personnel not trained enough," says Belinda Wright, executive director, Wildlife Protection Society of India. The total loss, in purely commercial terms, has been evaluated by experts to be as high as Rs 2.5 crore (according to the prevailing rates in Hong Kong). That we have no other ready framework to evaluate this loss is even more telling.