Photo- Rabin Chowdhury
The lonely animals have been deprived from the company of their mates for a long time and consequently the reproduction of four species of animals, including two lionesses, two male bears, two female Sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) and a male Gayal (Bos frontalis) is now at stake.
The lifespan of an Asiatic Lion is 15-18 years in captivity. The Two lionesses of the zoo ‘Nova’ and ‘Borsha’ who were born in June 16, 2005 have reached their adulthood.
Laxmi, mother of the duo died soon after giving birth while her spouse ‘Raj’ died in February 13, 2008.
Two male bears which were brought in from Khagrachhari and Gazipur have already become 13 years and 6 years old respectively. The average lifespan of an ‘Asiatic Black Bear’ species is 20 years.
On the other hand, the two female Sambar deer of the zoo are also pairlless. The average lifespan of a Samba deer is 20 years.
Besides, a large semi-domesticated bovine called Gayal has been passing its days without a spouse.
The zoologists warned that extreme loneliness and depression may shorten the lifespan of pair-less zoo animals.
“The zoo animals living without a spouse for a long time will naturally turn restless and quick-tempered. The natural agility is not seen in case of a spouse less captive animal. Eventually the lonely animals stop eating food,” Prof Dr Md Farid Ahsan of Chittagong University’s Zoology Department.
“We cannot discuss the problems of the zoo as the Zoo Executive Committee meeting is not held on a regular basis,” alleged Prof Dr Farid who is also a member of the zoo executive committee.
Venting anger over the poor animal collection of the zoo, the visitors said that the zoo would not be able to woo the visitors unless they collect animals like giraffe, elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus.
“My son has been insisting me on visiting zoo. My son was nagging me to show him Royal Bengal Tiger. To my surprise, Chittagong Zoo does not have any tiger. A zoo without a tiger has no lustre,” said Rounaque Jahan, a housewife has come to the zoo with his five-year old boy.
“Visitors particularly the children feel disappointed when they do not see any tiger after visiting the zoo. Although the zoo authorities erected two huge sculptures of elephant and giraffe to welcome the visitors at the main entrance, the giant mammals are not found inside the zoo,” said Rounaque.
“I feel utterly disappointed after visiting the zoo. Although the ticket price has been increased from Tk10 to Tk20, the zoo has no ostrich, elephant, tiger, elephant and hippopotamus,” said a visitor.
Dr Md Mongur Morshed Chowdhury, deputy curator of Chittagong Zoo informed that the last tigress of the zoo ‘Purnima’ died of intestine cancer in 2012 while her spouse ‘Chandra’ died a natural death in 2006.
“We have been making several attempts to increase diversity of the zoo. We have written letters to different zoos and safari parks of the country seeking tiger, lion and female deer,” said the deputy curator.
“At present there is no lioness in Rangpur Zoo. An exchange can easily take place between the two zoos for a lion and a lioness,” added the deputy curator.
Ruhul Amin, member secretary of Chittagong Zoo Executive Committee told the Dhaka Tribune that the procedures were going on for collecting spouses for the lonely mammals at the zoo.
“The zoo set up over a six-acre area of land does not have enough space to accommodate big animals like giraffe, elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus,” said Amin, adding that they undertaken a mammoth project for bringing about a radical change to the zoo.