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Geckos worth Rs 80 lakh stolen from Alipore Zoo

3/20/2015 6:47:55 PM

By Soumitra Nandi
In what can be called a near rerun of the Common Marmoset theft at the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata in August 2009, four Tokay geckos worth around Rs 80 lakh in black market was stolen from Alipore Zoo on Wednesday night.

The sleuths of the Kolkata police said that the thieves forced open the rear portion of the reptiles’ enclosure a door made of polycarbonate sheet to commit the crime. The theft was noticed around 7.30 am on Thursday morning after the keepers arrived to feed the geckos and found that 11 of them were missing. The zoo authorities launched a search and recovered 7 of the reptiles crawling near the enclosure. Urban development minister Firhad Hakim visited the zoo in the afternoon and accused the security personnel of being inefficient.
A senior zoo official said that most of these animals were brought there after the forest department rescued them form border areas. The first lot had come there in November 2012. Earlier they were kept in an enclosure near the hospital. They were shifted to a new enclosure after it was inaugurated in November 2014. 

An empty acid bottle was recovered from near the cage, suggesting that the thieves had first tried to melt the polycarbonate sheet. When the idea failed, they broke open.” Most interestingly, the area from where the thieves entered was not covered by CCTV, so we are not ruling out insider’s involvement in the case. Zoo keepers are being questioned, “said an officer investigating the case.

“On the basis of a complaint lodged by zoo officials a case has been initiated at Watgunge police station. The probe is on.” said deputy commissioner (Port) Imran Wahab.

Forest officials said that the Tokay Geckos are in demand in South East Asia for their reported medicinal values. It is believed that the reptile’s tongue can cure AIDS. The 2009 theft of the marmosets (seven of them were later rescued from Chattisgarh) was thought to have been triggered by their demand in medicinal research.

However zoo officials claimed that it is the golden Tokay geckos that are most in demand. The ones stolen are common geckos.


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