Ctg zoo plagued by staff shortage

bdnews24.com :
In the three decades since its inception, the Chattogram Zoo has grown both in size and the number of animals it houses. But the same cannot be said of its workforce.
The port city zoo is operating without a curator or a deputy curator. But the responsibility of tending to the 600 animals it boasts falls on just 14 staff members and a veterinary physician.
Aside from treating the animals, the veterinarian also doubles up as the zoo’s curator and deputy curator.
The marked shortage of staff may give the impression that the zoo is something of a backwater — it is anything but. The establishment attracted plenty of publicity as the birthplace of the country’s first albino tiger. It is also home to zebras, lions, birds, emu, bison and crocodiles — all are popular attractions for visitors.
Chattogram’s Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Mominur Rahman, also the president of the zoo’s governing board, acknowledges that the threadbare workforce is detrimental to the organisation. Even then, the authorities have no plans for new recruitments for the time being, he says.
According to its organogram, the zoo has 25 posts but only 21 of these are currently filled. At least two of these employees man the ticket counter, while two others check visitor passes at the entrance. Another two staff members are responsible for maintaining security at the zoo.
The work of the remaining 14 staffers is divided between looking after the animals and other tasks, including cleaning the facility.
To make matters worse, at least four staffers take their weekly holiday on the same day, according to the duty roster. This leaves only 10 staff on duty each day.
The zoo started out with eight cages but the number has now gone up to 33, according to its staff.
As such, it becomes almost impossible to run the facility with such a limited workforce, particularly on holidays and other special occasions when it gets busy.
The zoo was closed to visitors for the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, with the pandemic loosening its grip, visitors are streaming into the zoo once again, according to the authorities.
On average, 80,000 people visit the zoo every month, they said.
In order to ensure smooth operations, staffers say the zoo needs to double its workforce.
Unfortunately, no new recruits have come through the door in the past few years.
DC Mominur said the authorities plan to bolster security at the zoo by deploying more Ansar personnel since a recruitment drive is not on the cards.
“We’ll recruit 10 Ansar members soon. It’ll enable those working at the entrance to work inside the zoo.”
He said the authorities are working on a plan to expand and modernise the zoo, but Mominur could not provide a timeline for it.
The zoo was opened on six acres of land in Chattogram’s Foy’s Lake in 1989. Over the last three years, its area expanded to 10.2 acres as more animals were brought in.
The establishment lost some of its lustre due to the lack of renovation. In 2016, the authorities took an initiative to develop its infrastructure and increase the number of animals.
A tiger and a tigress were brought from South Africa that year at a cost of Tk 3.3 million from the zoo’s fund. Now, the zoo has a dozen tigers.