The Indian Board for Wildlife re-constituted its Zoo Wing as 'the Expert Group on Zoos' at its 9th session held on 18th November, 1972 at New Delhi to make detailed study for setting up and maintenance of zoos in the country. The Expert Group on Zoos submitted its report in June, 1973 which was accepted by the Board in its meeting in November, 1973. The report recommended setting up of a central agency (Zoo Grants Commission), and to give effect to this recommendation, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 was amended through an amendment Act in the year 1991.
A separate chapter, Chapter IVA contain Section 38 A to 38 J was added to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for establishment of the Central Zoo Authority in India. Accordingly, the Central Zoo Authority was established as a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment & Forests by the Government of India in the year 1992. The Authority consists of a Chairman, ten members and a Member Secretary.
The main objective of this Authority is to complement and strengthen the national effort in conservation of the rich biodiversity of the country, particularly the fauna as per the National Zoo Policy, 1998. Other objectives of this Authority include- enforcing minimum standards and norms for upkeep and healthcare of animals in Indian zoos and to control mushrooming of unplanned and ill-conceived zoos.
For the overall management of the animals housed in the Indian zoos, standards and norms for appropriate housing, upkeep, health care, diet etc. has been laid down under the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992 which was further amended in the year 2009 and 2013.
Every zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from the Authority for its operation. The Authority evaluates the zoos with reference to the parameters prescribed under the Rules and grants recognition, accordingly. The Authority’s role is more of a facilitator than a regulator. It therefore, provides technical and financial assistance to such zoos which have the potential to attain the desired standard in animal management. Apart from the primary function of grant of recognition, the Central Zoo Authority also regulates the exchange of animals of endangered category listed under Schedule- I and II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 among zoos.
Exchange of animals between Indian and foreign zoos is also approved by the Authority before the requisite clearances under EXIM Policy and the CITES permits are issued by the competent authority.
The Authority also coordinates and implements programmes on capacity building of zoo personnel, planned conservation breeding programmes and ex-situ research including biotechnological intervention for conservation of species for complementing in-situ conservation efforts in the country.
The zoo will have healthy animals in eco-system based naturalistic enclosure, be supportive to in-situ conservation with competent and content staff, good educational and interpretative facilities, have the support of people and be self-sufficient.
The Central Zoo Authority’s mission is to provide better upkeep and veterinary care to the wild animals housed in zoos in India to ensure their conservation through best practices of management and bringing education & awareness among the people.
The Authority has been assigned following functions under Section 38 (C) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:
(a) specify the minimum standards for housing, upkeep and veterinary care of the animals kept in zoos;
(b) evaluate and assess the functioning of the zoos with respect to the prescribed standards or norms;
(c) To recognize or derecognize zoos;
(d) To identify endangered species of wild animals for purposes of captive breeding and assigning responsibility in this regard to a zoo;
(e) To coordinate the acquisition, exchange and loaning of animals for breeding purpose;
(f) To ensure maintenance of studbooks of endangered species of wild animals bred in captivity;
(g) To identify priorities and themes with regard to display of captive animals in zoos;
(h) To coordinate training of zoo personnel in India and outside India;
(i) To coordinate research in captive breeding and educational programmes for the purposes of zoos;
(j) To provide technical and other assistance to zoos for their proper management and development on scientific lines;
(k) To perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act with regard to zoos.
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