Free Press Journal

Exclusive care for Humboldt penguins: BMC thinking of hiring private contractor

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Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed the appointment of a dedicated private contractor as caretaker of the Humboldt penguins and their enclosure at Byculla zoo (Veermata Jijabai Udyan). The appointed contractor will have to provide technical staff to maintain life support systems, air conditioning systems of the enclosure, provide good food to the penguins and extra veterinarians to look after them.

According to a civic source, the move has been spurred by the death of the baby Humboldt penguin born in the zoo on August 15 due to liver dysfunction and yolk sac retention less than a week after its birth. The proposal makes it evident that currently, zoo authorities do not have expert technical staff on board, hence the necessity for a private contractor. The proposal will be tabled at Tuesday’s standing committee meeting for final approval. If it gets the nod, then the shortlisted contractor, M/s Highway will be given the contract for next three years, at a cost around Rs 12 crore to the BMC. However, Sanjay Tripathi, the veterinBMC wants to hire pvt contractor ary doctor and in-charge of Byculla Zoo has denied that the move comes in the wake of the penguin chick’s death. While speaking to The Free Press Journal, he said the old contract is about to end and a new contract is to be awarded. Tripathi’s statement contradicts the proposal to be tabled at the standing committee meeting. The proposal categorically states the zoo authorities have no expert technical staff and so they want to hire a private contractor. Currently, the BMC inhouse staff looks after the penguins and maintains the enclosure.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had brought eight penguins – Donald, Daisy, Popeye, Olive, Flipper (oldest female), Bubble, Mr Molt (youngest male) and Dory from Seoul’s Coex Aquarium in 2016. Dory had died of a bacterial infection in October 2016, and the BMC faced a lot of flak for not providing proper facilities.