The number of deer at Rajshahi Zoo has reduced by six times over the last 15 years due to what experts say the authority’s move to cut maintenance costs.
In 2003, the zoo had a total of 350 deer of both the spotted species, locally called Chitra, and Indian Muntjac known as Maya or Barking Deer.
The deer shed then covered an area of 16 bighas of land in the western corner of the zoo.
In May 2003, the zoo authority began selling out its deer.
Rajshahi City Corporation authorities that run the zoo had told a press conference at the time that they decided to sell the deer for easier maintenance of the zoo.
He argued then the corporation spent nearly Tk 50 lakh annually for the zoo out of which Tk 31 lakh was for the upkeep of the deer alone.
In 2010, the corporation reshaped the zoo reducing the deer shed to a mere three bighas of land. They relocated the cages of other animals in place of the old deer shed.
The number of spotted deer at the zoo was recorded at 53 in November last year.
The zoo has now a lone female Maya deer which is said to in her final stage of life. She is housed in a cage originally allocated for an ass.
“We have made such changes in the zoo considering its economical aspects,” Ashraful Haque, Chief Engineer of the corporation, said.
The larger areas of the zoo and maintenance of those animals were causing us more money and we have also failed to control corruption among some of our staff, he said.
The economic scenario has changed after downsizing the deer shed, Haque claimed.
He said the corporation earned Tk 3.60 crore after spending Tk 80 lakh on the zoo in the 2015-16 fiscal.
The zoo in-charge Farhad Uddin meanwhile said the number of deer at the zoo has started to increase again. Seven fawn were born in December and the zoo is expecting more over the coming months.