Unhappy Feet – Humboldt Penguins Should Not Be Exhibited In A Zoo For Human Entertainment
Say No! to imprisoning Humboldt Penguins - found naturally in Peru and Chile, in Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo.
The poorly managed and badly maintained Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Zoo (Byculla Zoo), part of the iconic botanical garden known as Jijamata Udyan, wishes to put eight exotic Humboldt Penguins on display in the name of nature education. These birds, found in the wild only in Peru and Chile, will serve no useful purpose apart from entertaining humans. This notorious facility has been responsible for the deaths of an unconscionably large number of unfortunate animals for which the honorable Bombay High Court passed strictures against it in past years.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
While Jijamata Udyan (Rani Bagh) has immense architectural and botanical heritage value, the zoo serves no meaningful conservation or scientific purpose. The death and unspeakable suffering of scores of incarcerated animals has brought great ill-repute to the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Yet it is considering spending over Rs. 20 crores on yet another misadventure while the city claims to have no funds to properly maintain the existing animal facilities in their current situation.
DO ZOOS SERVE ANY PURPOSE AT ALL?
Zoo professionals and conservationists across the globe agree that the only justification for incarcerating animals in enclosures is to breed endangered species for release back into their natural habitat. The BMC has no such intention for its ill-fated "project penguin".
WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE?
The existing 60-acre facility is a botanical wonderland comprising over 3,000 trees of about 850 different species. Instead of adding exotic animals to the local government list of long-suffering inmates, the authorities should endeavour to improve the lot of animals in existing enclosures and declare the entire facility a botanical park and nature interpretation centre of national importance.
We ask that no new wild animals be acquired, as this would also lead to a dramatic increase in entry fees.
Instead we ask that facilities such as outdoor amphi-theatres, walking nature trails, butterfly gardens, and tree-interpretation walks be established at a relatively low cost. This will help sensitise lakhs of young and old in Mumbai to the environment that sustains them.
What YOU can do?
Write to the Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai. Respectfully make the following points:
1. Humboldt's Penguins (and other exotic species) will not enhance the appeal of Rani Bagh, but will instead underscore our city's insensitivity towards wild species that cannot speak for themselves.
2. Improving the condition of existing enclosures and animals should be THE priority for authorities.
3. We don’t need imprisoned penguins or any wild animals in a zoo to impart nature education.
4. These birds must not be used to entertain bored citizens.
5. At a time when the entire state is in the grip of a cycle of floods and droughts, it is regressive to foist a transparently commercial projects in the city, which will pollute and waste thousands of litres of water each year.
6. It is regressive on the part of city planners to use captive animals for non-conservation purposes with no plan to ever breed and release them into the wild.
Address your letter to:
Mr. Ajoy Mehta, IAS
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai
Municipal Head Office
Mumbai – 400 001
Or email him at
with a copy to
Read more on the issue:
First Post – Penguins In Mumbai A Great Story With A Potentially Sad Ending
Indian Express – A Dying Zoo Eying The Exotic
Sanctuary Asia – Incarceration or Education? City Plans to Import Humboldt Penguins to Rani Bagh Zoo
Read about how Zoos Dehumanise Us. Sanctuary Cub Editor-in-chief Tara Sahgal explains.