Big cats like tigers and lions were put on a chicken diet during the coronavirus-induced lockdown, but only due to non-availability of beef.

A tiger sitting inside a zoo cageRepresentational image
news Beef ban Tuesday, February 09, 2021 - 17:45

With the stringent new anti-cattle slaughter law in place in Karnataka, zoos in the state have sought an exemption from the law owing to health concerns of big cats like tigers and lions, that are traditionally fed beef. Speaking with TNM, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Member Secretary, Zoo Authority of Karnataka, BP Ravi, said, “We have submitted to the government through proper channels to give us an exemption from this law after discussing with our department higher authorities. We have also discussed this with animal husbandry department officials.”

Ravi said that historically, lions and tigers in the state’s zoos – like elsewhere in the country – were only given beef. It was only during crises such as during the coronavirus-induced lockdown for two months that the animals were given chicken due to unavailability of beef.  

“During the lockdown, we could not source beef for the big cats in Bannerghatta zoo and we had fed them chicken. At that time the animals had put on weight, but epidemiologically, there was no change. We had confirmed this with blood tests done on animals across the state. But if these animals will only have to be given chicken long term, it may be a cause for concern,” he added.

Vanishree Vipin Singh, executive director of Bengaluru Bannerghatta Biological Park, concurred. “Large carnivores like leopards, lions and tigers are traditionally given beef because they eat red meat if they are in the wild. For smaller carnivores like wolves, wild dogs and jackals, it is not much of an issue,” she said.

On Monday, the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2020 was passed in the Legislative Council under controversial circumstances. The law was earlier cleared in the state Assembly in December 2020. The Bill was passed in the Council with voice vote even though the Congress had sought for a division of votes. The BJP has only 31 members in the Assembly, and hence would have needed the support of the JD(S) which has 13 members. The Congress has 29 members.

However, the rules are already in effect with the Governor Vajubhai Vala promulgating the ordinance on January 5 on the same issue, based on the advice of the state cabinet.

Read: Karnataka anti-cattle slaughter bill passed in Legislative Council

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