Free Press Journal

Mumbai’s Byculla zoo officials plan to preserve penguin eggshells for research, display


Mumbai: After welcoming its newest inhabitant, a baby Humboldt penguin, on August 15, the  Veermata Jijabai Udyan (Byculla Zoo) has now decided to preserve the egg shell and CCTV footage for documentation and research. Sanjay Tripathi, veterinary doctor and zoo in-charge, said, “The egg shell fragments have been kept in the zoo centre and will be preserved. We also plan to put the shell on public display. The matter is pending discussion.”

Besides this, footage from the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the aquarium, which have recorded every movement of the penguins will be documented and used for research. Tripathi said, “Right now, the doctors, including me, are busy with the baby penguin, checking its health regularly. The CCTV video will definitely be used for study purposes as it is the first-ever penguin to be born in India and in Mumbai’s zoo.”

A 75-gram penguin was born at night on Independence Day. The new-born is greyish in colour and it will be two years before the characteristic white stretch manifests. Mr Molt, the youngest, and Flipper, the oldest, are the proud parents of the newborn penguin. The Flipper laid an egg on July 5 and on August 15, exactly 40 days after the incubation period was complete, it egg hatched. Furthermore, to determine the gender of the newborn, a DNA analysis will be carried out at a Bengaluru (Bangalore) laboratory. Madhumita Kale, another veterinary doctor said, “The health of the baby penguin is right now important for us. The DNA analysis can be delayed for some time until everything comes to normal.”

It will be three months before the public can get a glimpse of the new arrival. Currently, it is being tended to by its parents. In three months, it will be capable of fending for itself and can be viewed by the public, zoo officials said.

Meanwhile, the Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC)-appointed contractor has started work on the enclosure construction work in the zoo, in keeping with the project to modernise the 19 century spot.  Zoo authorities plans to get Madras pond turtles, common otters, sloth bears, hyenas, wolves, jackals, leopards, reptiles, lesser cats, and birds in the first phase. In the second phase, the authorities plan to get swamp deer, sambar, black buck, nilgai, Asiatic lion, Bengal tigers, emu, jaguar and a zebra. “The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has already approved the procurement of these animals. These will be exchanged across various zoological parks in the country,” said Dr Tripathi.

After the enclosure work is completed, said Tripathi,  the animals will be brought in. Another reason for the zoo to smile has been the victory in Bombay High Court against Mafatlal Mills, which had occupied seven acres of land which was leased to it by the civic corporation. Since the tenure of the lease expired, BMC asked for the land back but Mafatlal submitted a plea in court, claiming its right to the land. The plea was rejected by the court on August 16, clearing the way for the zoo’s expansion plan, delayed until now.