Guwahati : A large number of right-wing activists on Monday agitated against serving beef as part of diet to tigers and other carnivores in the Guwahati Zoo.
The activists blocked the vehicles carrying meat items meant for the tigers and other carnivores housed in the Assam State Zoo
The zoo officials asked the activists to submit their demands to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which decides the food stuff to be served to the animals.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) at the Assam State Zoo, Tejas Mariswamy, said the police subsequently dispersed the agitators.
Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said the animals are being fed beef as it is "essential" for them as per the traditional practice and nutritious needs.
"In some states beef is banned. These states feed buffalo meat to the animals. But Assam does not have sufficient stock of buffalo meat," the minister told the media.
Supporting the right-wing activists' demands, ruling BJP leader Satya Ranjan Borah asked why only beef was being served to the animals when other meats were available.
"We (Hindu society) always want the protection of the holy cow but the animal is killed to feed the zoo carnivores. Why is only beef being fed to the zoo animals when we can give them the meat of sambar (deer) or pig," Borah asked.
Currently, the animals of the zoo are being given beef once a week.
Set up in 1957 and spread over 175 hectares in the middle of Guwahati city in the Hengrabari reserve forest, the Assam state zoo houses 1,040 wild animals and birds of 112 species.
The Guwahati zoo, biggest among the zoos in the northeast, accommodates eight tigers, three lions, 26 leopards and other small cats, including leopard cat and jungle cat, among others.
The zoo is a big attraction for the people in Assam and other northeastern states. However, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been shut for the visitors for the past seven months.
This report from IANS has been edited