Mysuru: Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) Chairperson Mallige Veeresh holding a leopard cub and posing for camera has created a controversy. Not amused by the photograph that is being circulated on the social media platforms and a report in a section of the press, wildlife enthusiasts say that the ZAK Chairperson’s act was illegal as per the Wildlife Protection Act.
A Forest Department Officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told Star of Mysore that nobody can touch the animals in the wild even when they are housed in a Zoo. Only officers, doctors and Zoo-keepers can do so if touching is necessitated. The ZAK Chairperson holding the leopard cub and circulating the photograph on social media is condemnable, said the forest officer.
ZAK Chief clarifies
Clarifying her stand on the issue, Mallige Veeresh, whose Office is housed inside the Mysore
Zoo premises, told SOM that the picture was taken 8 months back at Karnataka’s Biggest Zoo named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Kamlapur near Hampi Kannada University in Ballari and it was not her intention to pose for photographs for publicity.
“At the Zoo, I saw the leopard cub that was just two-and-a-half-months-old at that time and its mother had died during childbirth. The Zoo-keepers had taken me to the enclosure and one of the cubs came running towards me and rubbed itself to my legs like a cat. I just lifted the cub and patted its back. Some Zoo staffer had clicked the photos without my knowledge then,” she said.
The same photograph was framed and presented to her as a memento (see pic.) when the Ballari Zoo was inaugurated during the Hampi Utsav held in the first week of this month, she said. Displaying the photo frame dated 3.11.2017 and bearing the title ‘Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Zoological Park and Indira Priyadarshini Deer Safari Dedication Programme Memento,” Mallige Veeresh said that there was no intention of her gaining publicity out of this or showing cruelty to animals.
When asked if her action violates wildlife laws, she said, “As you can see in that picture, I was not looking towards the camera.”
“Yes, I know it’s a violation of law but it was not intentional. I was really surprised to see the Zoo staffer presenting me the photo that was framed. So I put that picture on social media,” she clarified.