This Article is From Dec 16, 2010

Katraj Zoo voted sixth best in country

Pune: The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has rated the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, popularly known as Katraj zoo, as the sixth best in the country.

Many developments are coming up in the 165-acre zoo, as per the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)'s master plan, which was sanctioned by the CZA recently.

Garden superintendent, Naresh Zhurmure, told DNA that the rating was announced at a recent CZA meeting. "We managed to get a higher rating due to our management, maintenance and other activities. The zoo is being upgraded. We have a master plan, sanctioned by the CZA, to guide our activities," he added.

The master plan was prepared by Bharati Vidyapeeth's Institute for Environment Education & Research (BVIEER). The plan incorporates protection, education and research. The staff will be taught about animals, their characteristics and habitats, so they can inform visitors how the animals live in the wild.

More animals and facilities will be added, as per the master plan. New enclosures are being planned. The authorities are also focusing on making the zoo a centre of education. Two zoo educators have been appointed. Emphasis is on inviting schools and educating children about wildlife.

Workshops are being held for students, officers and the public to inform them about the importance of each animal in the ecosystem and how they live in the jungles. Pupils from over 100 schools have visited the park in the last six months, said veterinary officer of the zoo, NK Nighot.

Under the animal exchange programme, barking deer and porcupines will be brought here from the zoo in Mumbai. A male wolf will be brought from Gadchiroli for the company of the two females in the zoo to facilitate breeding. A particular species of python will be added to the zoo from Chennai.

"Plastic has been strictly banned as animals swallow it. Visitors are required to pay a deposit for carrying plastic water bottles into the zoo and show the bottle while leaving to get back the deposit. Better public amenities are being planned," he said.

An animal adoption scheme has been introduced. Over 1,25,000 saplings have been planted in the last one year to add to the green cover. A nursery has also been developed. The CZA officials visited the zoo three months ago. The vacant posts of veterinary officer, deputy garden superintendent and zoo education officers have been filled and other appointments will be made soon, Nighot said. The zoo does not have a director at present.

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