Moving the animals from Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, Lucknow to a new, bigger and better home in Kukrail Forest will take some time.
There is awaited permission from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) – the nodal body overseeing the movement of animals in the country – for the change, even as zoo authorities wait for the infrastructure to be fully installed at Kukrail. .
The task of moving over 100 species of animals to their new home in Kukrail is no easy task. For the first time, an entire zoo is moved to Uttar Pradesh.
On August 16, the state government had approved the change in a cabinet decision, and now the paperwork with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), will mark the start of that task.
“The whole transfer process will start with a proposal to the CZA which is the authority to authorize the transfer of animals or even the exchange of animals between two zoos in India, before anything is done. nothing else is done,” said zoo director VK Mishra.
The process is tedious but will definitely give animals a more spacious home. The current Hazratganj campus spans 29 hectares and the new campus will span 60 hectares or 150 acres.
“It will definitely give better and bigger space for animals. For visitors too, moving to a bigger area will be a great experience,” said Abhiyansh Shukla, a class 7 student and wildlife enthusiast. Shukla is also the author of the book “A year and a half” devoted to the pandemic from the point of view of a child.
The zoo was established in 1921 and until 1950 it operated under various trusts and bodies before reporting to an advisory committee of the Department of Public Health and the Director, Medicine and Health, being its administrator . In 1966, its administrative control was transferred to the Forestry Department.
A long process
Once permission from the CZA has been obtained, a brand new zoo will be developed in Kukrail Forest with larger enclosures providing more comfort for the animals that occupy them. The lion’s den, snake house, wildlife hospital, toy train, food court, aquarium and various other venues will be built to standards set for zoos by the CZA.
Enclosures will be built not only for animals that currently live on the zoo campus, but additional enclosures for animals that will be brought in the future will also be built before those animals are actually brought here.
The next step will be to decide on the move where the forestry department will set up a committee of experts who will decide on the move, a senior forestry official said. “The movement of each animal will be planned individually and not in groups or clusters. It must be ensured that each animal is moved without any harm, physical or emotional,” the official said.
A roadmap as well as a movement plan for the animals in each enclosure will be drawn up and could be spread over several days. This will be to make sure nothing goes wrong during the shift. Before changing the diet, the entire diet and food supply will be ensured.
The zoo is home to mammals, birds, and reptiles, and so moving is a difficult task that will be planned to the bone. Officials said the change will only happen when the infrastructure is fully developed at Kukrail.
“Vegetation and ecology are almost the same in both places, so changing location is not something to worry about. We have time so specific plants/trees can be planned if necessary,” said the zoo director.
Outsource an option
In addition to the forestry officers who will plan and decide on the movement of animals from the current zoo to the new one, outside experts with experience in moving animals may also be engaged.
Officials said that since there are reputable agencies involved in the transfer of animals between a zoo in India or other countries to another zoo, they could be roped in to ensure best practices and best equipment of transfer.
As the Forest Department does not routinely move animals, therefore it does not collectively maintain the equipment/infrastructure to move animals. Therefore, outsourcing animal movement could be an option to be decided by a committee.
In 2001 the zoo was changed from Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens Trust to Lucknow Zoological Garden. In 2015, its name was changed again. It was then baptized ‘Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, Lucknow’.