Salman Rushdie in his famous novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ wrote about those born on the stroke of India’s independence. He probably had not predicted that 72 years later, his surreal book would turn into a reality, albeit with a penguin.
Yesterday, amidst all the patriotic fanfare, there was another reason to celebrate. Byculla Zoo saw the birth of India’s first Humboldt penguin. Humboldt is South American penguins that breed in coastal Chile and Peru. The penguins are named after the cold water current it swims in.
Penguins are endemic to the Southern hemisphere and thrive in frigid habitats, also spending vast periods in the ocean. Hence, before their arrival in 2016, the authorities in Mumbai arranged a quarantine facility with adjustable temperature. On July 26, 2016, three male and five female Penguins were brought from Seoul in South Korea. Unfortunately, in 2016, Dory, an 18-month-old Humboldt penguin died in the zoo. This resulted in a political row and various animal activist going against the idea of bringing penguins.
Yesterday, Mr. Molt and Flipper gave birth to another Humboldt penguin. If this kid survives, it might lay to rest the conflict between animal activists and the political leaders, who were initially keen to bring penguins to India.
Image Credit: indianexpress
The decision to bring penguins to Byculla zoo had met with some controversy earlier, with animal activists advising against the move, citizen groups raising concerns over the lack of facilities and opposition parties criticising the leaders at the Municipal corporation for the vested interests behind the decision.
And is it fair? To get species from another environmental zone, and force them to make a family in a land, not suited to their natural tendencies. This new penguin will definitely get Indian citizenship, but what about the impending conflicts about its self-identity. What will happen when its parents tell him that India is not its natural home?
Ever since penguins have been introduced to Byculla zoo, there has been an increase in visitors. But human greed and curiosity should not compel these penguins to live in unnatural environments.