New Delhi: Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat kicked up a controversy in Nagpur after a video of him entering a tiger cub's cage was made public.
The video footage shows Thorat entering the cage in Nagpur zoo in the presence of the tiger's trainer.
Thorat, who is also the Guardian Minister of Nagpur, blatantly ignored zoo rules by entering the cage along with eight to 10 people. This despite the fact that a tiger cub had recently died due to infection.
"Actually Balasaheb Thorat is the Guardian Minister of Nagpur, so when he was told about the tiger cub's condition he went to check the status. His love, affection for wildlife is well-known. Just because he touched the tiger doesn't mean he did anything wrong. I don't have all the details, my department is trying to find out. We will initiate an Inquiry if required. But the zoo doesn't even come under my purview. It's under the Municipal Corporation's jurisdiction, their staff look after the zoo," said Babanrao Pachpute, Maharashtra Forest Minister.
But environmentalists are up in arms against the Minister's actions and have asked for an explanation.
Only authorised and trained personnel are allowed to enter the cages under controlled conditions.
Section 38J of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 states that no person shall tease or cause disturbance to animals in a zoo. Many say that the minister's act amounts to teasing.