One of the important methods of stocking and enriching zoological parks with both indigenous and exotic animals is by exchange. The Central Zoo Authority has classified the Zoos as Major, Medium and Mini Zoos. The medium and mini zoos may be insisted or compelled to confine themselves to the indigenous species of that area. But as far as the major zoos are concerned, there are only few zoos, which have attained the minimum standards, should be permitted to exhibit rare, exotic and indigenous species by way of purchase or exchange through zoos either from India and Abroad.
Major zoos have often proved that they are capable of housing and breeding animals like Giraffe, Maned Wolf, Penguins, African Elephants, Orangutans, Zebras, African Rhino, tapir etc. Very few major zoos have good records of breeding exotic animals and at least they should be permitted to house them as a special case.
When once the exchange deal has been finalized, the procedure may be simplified in consultation with the Ministry of Trade, as there are chances of loosing valuable animals due to delay caused in getting necessary clearances. It is now well recognized that display of the fauna of the world provides a wider base for education of students and other classes of people and enhances the popularity of the Zoos. It is therefore, necessary to procure selected exotic animals between recognized zoos in India should be liberal based on the principles of mutual benefit, requirement of breeding animals, research, etc., rather than adopting a commercial view of such changes.
The Central Zoo Authority usually acts as a coordinator and should issue mandatory to shift the single animals to make ideal pairs in other zoos. Whenever an exchange deal is proposed, the valuation of the animals come into the picture. Hence the Central Zoo Authority should fix some values for all the animals, just to facilitate proposing the exchange deal.
In spite of the Intensive measures initiated for protection and propagation of wildlife, captive stock is dwindling all over. Recognition of the need for protection of natural resources especially wildlife, is not new, for example Poland protected the European Beaver in the 16th century, and Switzerland protected song—birds in 1535. The Elephant preservation act promulgated in 1879 in India is still in vogue. Nevertheless, many animals are on the verge of extinction and have become a rare commodity in their natural habitat. Zoos provide an opportunity to see all such animals without many hassles.
In a Zoo addition to the number of animals is generally through reproduction. Acquiring new animals from other Zoos on exchange basis is a so a routine affair. Gifts and local purchases are also common sometimes animals are temporarily moved out on loan, to other Zoos for breeding purpose. For increasing the genetic base occasionally some animals are captured from their niches too. However, this is not encouraged much. Further, animals born only in captivity are permitted for exchange. Thus trade of animals, even among Zoos is restricted while animals are moved out the donor will certainly have to look into the prevailing environment in the new place that his pets have to face along with the availability of expertise and facilities.
Similarly deletions from the stock of animals in a zoo is by deaths. Injuries from infighting and accidents. Amongst horned animals, is often fatal and many end up in death. Diseases like tuberculosis, gastro—entritis, cancer, cardiac arrest, myiasis, worm infection etc., are also common in Zoo animals. Old age is another common cause. Infant deaths also boost the casualty counts. Often inured and sick animals are brought to zoo hospital for treatment in an advanced condition and they mostly succumb to the injury. This also goes into zoos account. Disposal of animals on exchange basis is another feature. Periodically surplus list of animals available in a zoo along with the details of animals required is circulated among other reputed zoos. However, striking a balance exchange deal is a tough task.
Balancing the stock
Additions, quite often will not be in equivalence with the deletions. Births can be controlled and organized to a plan to meet the needs, but death is beyond anybody’s command. Breeding left to chance, within a closely knit family, will lead to unhealthy progenies whose future is very much forlom. Getting more off»springs, especially that of big mammals, without adequate facilities, proper shelter and continuous care would be disastrous. We should plan to breed such animals only when there is positive demand for them. However for re introducing rare species into their natural habitat the approach shall be totally different. Animals retained as exhibits in a zoo cannot be used for this purpose. Though, the primary drive for each animal is to survive long enough to perpetuate its kind, adequate facilities required by the animal for this purpose have to be provided. The animal must consume sufficient nutritious food to sustain it in a thrifty condition until that goal is accomplished (Gullion 1990)
Pairing animals It is very usual to see single animals displayed in zoos. Vali the lone Chimpanzee of this zoo have got 5 new companions after a long period of solitary life. Such unfortunate animal have to remain along till a suitable pair is provided. All the zoos are interested only in getting a partner for their single animals, however there are very reluctant to spare them to others. Through proper coordination and persuasion by the Central Zoo Authority this problem could be minimized to a great extent. Frequent meeting of zoo directors may bring in positive results.
Zoo development involves maintenance of existing enclosures, modernization of old cages and introductions of new themes and these have to be a continuous process. Animals for pairing, breeding and adding have to be procured regularly. Visitor facilities are to be regularly attended to. Quality food in required quantity is to be provided keepers have to be trained. Opportunities for imparting educational values to the visitors to be stressed. All these need huge financial investments. The concerned authorities have to look into this aspect very seriously and unless adequate financial support is provided for the proper management of the zoo it will be very difficult to bring the zoo to the ideal standard as contemplated.