‘Junglii’, an exotic petting zoo in Injambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, was set to be inspected by the Tamil Nadu Animal Welfare Board due to questions about its legality. This establishment, which is also a pet shop, exhibits various exotic animals for an entrance fee, including hedgehogs, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, parrots, and pythons, and therefore it could also be considered a zoo. It charges anywhere between Rs 399 and Rs 9,999 for the visitors to handle and play with the animals.
Antony Rubin, a member of the state animal welfare board, had filed a complaint with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). Rubin told New Indian Express, “Since people are being charged to enter the facility, permission has to be taken under the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001, which Junglii hasn’t done. I paid Rs 3,097 for three persons and a mobile camera. I saw children handling exotic pythons. The animals looked stressed. The exotic animal trade is a huge grey area since it’s not regulated under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.”. The AWBI official asked authorities to check if there was any breach of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001; and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. A senior official in the animal husbandry department said a team led by the department’s Kancheepuram joint director were put in charge of inspecting the petting zoo. Chennai Wildlife Warden E Prasanth said his team had visited Junglii but found no native species protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Whether in India or any other country, the line between an ”exotic pet” scenario and a zoo may become blurred. People keeping exotic animals as pets may move towards trading them, and then towards exhibiting them under the classic educational excuses we see in traditional zoos.