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Notice to Menaka for violation of animal welfare norms

September 23, 2008 15:58 IST

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has issued notice to People For Animals (PFA), an NGO run by former union minister and noted animal rights activist Menaka Gandhi, for allegedly violating animal welfare norms at one of its shelters for monkeys in Haryana. "After monitoring the status of the centre, where the animals are kept, and the condition of the simians as well, the CZA has asked the NGO to either improve the existing infrastructure and deploy adequate staff for the captive monkeys within next six months or face derecognition," an official said.

Contacted, Menaka refuted allegations that the centre was facing overcapacity problems and said there were sufficient staff and veterinarian to take care of animals.

"Monkeys move as per their wish. Anyway, improvement is always welcome and it is an ongoing process," the Pilibhit MP said adding that they had approached the CZA for renewal of licence.

Set up in 2001, the Hanuman [Images] Vatika in Sultanpur provides shelter to monkeys rescued from research laboratories all over the country are kept there with an aim to providing  specialised care and nurturing for the traumatised simians.

A CZA team during the evaluation of the centre recently found that it was allegedly in a dilapidated state with no proper care being rendered to the animals as many of them were found to injured or wounded, sources said.

Spread over around 1 acre, the Vatika is brimming with monkeys and langoors, much against its specified capacity, the CZA team said. According to the CZA Act, around 500 square metre is must for a pair of monkey to ensure healthy environment for the simians.

"Overall, there are 97 animals of which 87 are Rhesus Macaques, eight Bonned Macaques and two common langoor. The latter two are chained while others are housed in small sized enclosures," the official said.

He added that the 'Vatika' was found wanting in many other aspects, for instance, there is no trained staff to handle the animals and also no full-time veterinarian to monitor health status of the monkeys.

Also, there was neither record nor details on animal history to ensure long-term welfare of the animals, the team found, according to sources. Taking serious note of the lapses, the CZA which is entrusted with the task of recognising zoos and animal centres in the country, has asked Menaka to create adequate facilities as per norms specified under the Acts concerned within the next six months or face cancellation of the licence of the centre.

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