Guwahati: After several Hindu activist protested against serving beef as part of diet to tigers and other big cats in Assam state zoo, forest minister Parimal Suklabaidiya on Monday said that it is essential for wild animals to maintain their food habit as per the nutritious needs.
“Beef or medium bovine meets are preferred mostly by the large carnivorous animals such as lions and tigers. We can feed them mutton or pork once a while but that cannot be their only diet. This diet has been set by various experts and we will stick to it,” Suklabaidya told media on Monday.
Around 30 members of right-wing “activists” on Monday staged about a one-hour dharna outside the zoo right in front of the entrance to the zoo and also halted a vehicle carrying beef for the animals.
Suklabaidiya said, “Every animal has a separate food habit. We have to look after the food habit. Like–vultures don’t eat the fresh meat and the meat served to them has to be fragmented for two days. If we disturb the food habit of the animals, they will get irritated. If they get irritated, this will be problematic.”
“Those who speak against serving beef to animals; they first should know the character of wild animals. We don’t have any problem if they criticize us after knowing the things,” the minister added.
There was a huge ruckus outside the Zoo as the “activists” halted a vehicle carrying beef for the zoo animals, and shouted slogans over feeding beef to animals demanding a blanket ban on cow slaughter and that the animals in the zoo not be fed beef.
The protest came a day after the remark of a ruling BJP member and former state vice president of BJP Kisan Morcha Assam Pradesh Satya Ranjan Borah demanded to stop serving beef to the zoo animals.
“If the zoo authorities and state government didn’t stop the supply of beef, they must be ready to face our challenge,” Borah had said on Sunday.
Officials of Zoo asked the protesters to forward their demands to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which determines what kind of food materials are to be given to animals.
Officials said food has been served on the basis of the need and food habit of the animals after doing a proper study. They said that if the CZA modifies the diet of the animals as per the demand of the activists, the zoo authorities will be happy to comply.
Established in 1957 and spread over 175 hectares in the middle of Guwahati in the Hengrabari reserve forest, Assam state zoo, which has 1,040 wild animals and birds of 112 species, is the biggest zoo in the Northeast.
At present, the zoo has 8 tigers, 3 lions, 26 leopards and other small cats like leopard cat, jungle cat etc.
The zoo is a big attraction among people in Guwahati and others from across the region, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been closed for the public since March this year.