Nation Current Affairs 04 Jul 2019 Few interested in Th ...

Few interested in Thiruvananthapuram Zoo reptile keeper’s job

Published Jul 4, 2019, 5:46 am IST
Updated Jul 4, 2019, 5:55 am IST
In the last one year, two keepers were given the training to tend to reptiles at the Zoo.
Thiruvananthapuram Zoo (Photo:
 Thiruvananthapuram Zoo (Photo:

Thiruvananthapuram: At Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, few are interested in the reptile keeper’s job.  Reptile keeper A. S. Harshad, who once belon-ged to a street circus gro-up and was later trained by Vava Suresh, is content, doing his duty as reptile keeper. But when he goes on leave, it’s a hunt for a replacement. Authorities brought Joseph from Thrissur Zoo this time.

In the last one year, two keepers were given the training to tend to reptiles at the Zoo. But they expressed reservation when they realised that it is not easy to take care of them.


It was after a long wait of 16 years, Mr Harshad was made a permanent reptile keeper last year. Until then, he hardly took leave as he was a daily-wages keeper on a paltry Rs 630.

Once he was made a permanent keeper in charge of the reptile enclosure, there have been instances where a replacement was not easily possible. Recen-tly, the 43-year-old was bitten by a crocodile which left him confined to home for close to two weeks.

Another daily wages keeper, Sanal Kumar, took over the role of taking care of the deadly reptiles, including seven gre-en anacondas. A zookeeper said they are scared of them.


“Compared to other wild animals, the role of tending to deadly reptiles does not come easy. One moment of distraction can lead to casualty,” he told DC.

Vava Suresh said Mr Harshad possess a knack for taking care of animals including snakes due to his childhood association with the street circus group managed by his late father. “If the zoo authorities call me, I am only too happy to help them. I have around 25 snake catchers in Thiruvananthapuram alone. They are hesitant to call one of us as they fear that we will cling on to the job there,” Mr Suresh told DC.


amid catching a python from a Pongumoodu home.

However, Abu Sivadas, museum and zoo director, vehemently denied the claim raised by a keeper that there is a shortage of people coming forward as reptile keepers.

“Becoming a reptile keeper or a mahout takes several years of experience where they require special skills to tackle the deadly snakes or an elephant," he told DC.

"If the other zookeepers cleaning enclosures can shift the animals to the next, this is not possible in the case of reptiles. Currently, Sanal Kumar is recovering after a surgery, and hence we had to seek the service of the keeper from Thrissur."