After serving as the Curator of Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Vizag for over two years, Yesoda Bai R (IFS) has recently been transferred to Eluru to take over as the District Forest Officer (DFO) of the region. From taking charge during the zoo’s resurrection post-Hudhud to leading five animal exchange programmes, Ms Bai played an integral part in several operations at the zoo over the past few years. In an exclusive interaction with Yo! Vizag, the former Vizag zoo curator shares her experiences of being at the centre of the city’s favourite ecological spot.
The initial experience
Hailing from Kerala, Yesoda Bai says she has formed a beautiful connection with Vizag. Recalling her initial experience at the Vizag zoo, Yesoda Bai says, “The zoo suffered severely during the Hudhud cyclone in the year 2014. After taking charge as the zoo curator in Vizag, one of my first tasks was to get the redevelopment work on track. Finding a suitable agency to take up the project came as a bit of a challenge. Eventually, a Delhi-based agency, which was then working on a project at Kambalakonda, was onboarded and the zoo redevelopment slowly began to take shape under APDRP (Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project).”
Meanwhile, other development works at the zoo, also hit the groove under Ms Bai’s custody of the zoo. “There were many animal enclosures in the zoo which required to be renovated, depending on the kind of animals they housed. Accordingly, we modified these enclosures to suit the needs of the respective animals. We also focused on shifting animals to locations, within the zoo, that would best suit them,” she shares.
During her term here, the zoo also saw an Elephant Health Committee come into effect. The committee avails services of renowned elephant doctors to look after the four jumbos that are currently housed at IGZP.
Leading the animal exchange programmes
One of the highlights of her stint at the IGZP is the successful animal exchange programmes that were held with other zoological parks. Ms Bai led five animal exchange programmes that saw the Vizag zoo receive a pair of zebras, three Royal Bengal Tigers, Indian wolves, Sarus cranes, water monitor lizards, common marmosets, and Asiatic lions among others, within a two-year period. “We had sent and received animals via railways in three of the exchanges with Kolkata, Sakkarbaugh, and Bilaspur Zoos. The support we received from the railway officials for doing the same was exceptional,” she says.
Sharing her experience of transporting and receiving animals, Yesoda Bai says, “It was a new experience altogether. For instance, when the zebras had arrived from Kolkata, we were all ready to receive them at the railway station by 3 AM. The animals had to be carefully lifted from the train VPU with the help of a crane and placed onto a transport lorry. Again, after reaching the zoo, the cage had to be skilfully unloaded from the lorry and slotted into the enclosure with a crane. We might have experienced materials being loaded and unloaded. But being in charge of the operation where live animals undergo the same was a totally different experience,” she shares.
The former Vizag zoo curator was also aided by the zoo staff and experienced veterinarians to make these exchange programmes a success. That said, she also noted the need for revamped animal enclosures in Visakhapatnam to ensure smoother transportation of animals during the crating and transportation part of an exchange programme.
It is important that we conserve our nature. As our part, we tried to raise awareness on the importance of nature conservation on different occasions. From celebrating wildlife week on a grand scale to the recently held online quiz on 5 June during WED2020, several initiatives were aimed at educating the public about the importance of wildlife and nature.
Speaking about Vizagites, she says, “I find the citizens of Vizag very conservation-oriented and sensitised to the message of environmental conservation. Through my interaction with the people, I have felt that they care for the zoo as their own. I’d request them to maintain this support to the zoo and also to wildlife in general. This is the need of the hour. Nature conservation is pivotal if we are to think for our future generations.”
As Yesoda Bai gears up to take charge as the DFO in Eluru, we wish her success in future endeavours.