Animal rights activists in Mumbai filed a police complaint on Monday after an endangered Humboldt penguin died at the Byculla zoo. In its complaint, the Plant and Animals Welfare Society – Mumbai has alleged negligence by zoo authorities and demanded that the death of 18-month-old Dory be investigated, Hindustan Times reported.
Dory, along with seven others of her species, were to be put on public display at the zoo in November. The penguins are native to Peru and Chile in South America and were brought from the Coex Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea, to the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in July.
"We have filed a complaint citing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act as the penguin was diagnosed with liver and intestinal infections," said Sunish Subramaniam Kunju, the secretary of PAWS - Mumbai said: "It is possible that the food being given to the birds did not suit them even after zoo officials said all possible measures were being taken to protect them." The NGO has also written to the Central Zoo Authority, urging it to check whether conditions at the Byculla zoo are ideal for the seven remaining penguins.
In July, animal welfare activists had strongly opposed the zoo's move to procure the penguins, expressing their doubts about whether its authorities had the expertise to care for them or provide them with the required living conditions. Jose Louies, the head of trade control at the Wildlife Trust of India, had said, "This can be seen as a transfer for these endangered species from one jail to another. Even officials in charge of international zoos like the National Zoological Park in Washington, USA, had a hard time looking after these birds."
Since Dory's death on Sunday, a citizens' petition titled "Release penguins kept at inadequate zoo to a suitable sanctuary" has already gathered 819 signatures. The project director of Vanashakti, Stalin Dayanand, said, "One bird has escaped the misery faced by all wildlife for the last four years in the living hell called the Byculla Zoo. They cannot take care of indigenous species and are over stretching themselves into exotic wildlife."