Leaving a well-paying corporate job to take up the challenge of reviving a crumbling enterprise is not easy. But R. K. Sahu, the present director of Ahmedabad’s Kankaria Zoo, took this decision 27 years ago. He left his job with Tata Group to take the position as the head of a zoo that was deeply buried in losses.
Today, after putting in a lot of hard work, he has not only managed to turn it into a profit-making venture, but has also started several welfare schemes for the animals and birds there.
“I was born and brought up in Madhya Pradesh and did my graduation from the same. Right after my graduation I joined…
In a post on the Facebook page Humans of Amdavad, Sahu shared his inspiring story. Born and brought up in Madhya Pradesh, he joined the Tata Group after completing his graduation. While he was living a comfortable corporate life, he had always wanted to work in the field of wildlife conservation. His wish became tangible when he came across an advertisement in the newspaper for the post of the head of Kankaria Zoo. Established by Reuben David, the zoo was in deep losses after David’s demise.
Sahu introduced open enclosures for tigers, lions, and bears; started a reptile house and butterfly park; and also introduced breeding programmes for several animals and birds. He introduced a scheme where citizens could adopt an animal and contribute towards its nutrition and other needs. Slowly, the zoo became a point of attraction in the city.
The zoo is now home to over 150 species of birds and animals and also stands among the best 14 zoos in the country, according to Sahu.
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“I was born and brought up in Madhya Pradesh and did my graduation from the same. Right after my graduation I joined Tata group and worked for them for almost a year in different parts of the country. Once I was in Bihar and I saw a recruitment advertisement in Times of India for the job of the Head of Ahmedabad Zoo. Since childhood, I wanted to work for the welfare and conservation of animals and birds and this was a very good opportunity so I applied for the post of the Head of Kankaria Zoo and gave an interview. and soon I received the job confirmation letter. I was told to join the zoo within one month, so I left my job at Tata and shifted to the city in the year 1990. I joined a year after the death of the legendary Reuben David, who founded the zoo and continued to work for it even after his retirement. So when I came here I was just 26 years old and there were lots of expectations from me and also the zoo was in a very bad situation. Zoo was facing many problems at that point of time. It was facing problems like administrative problems, infrastructure problems, animal problems, also there were no veterinary doctors available. From officers to media people everyone had only one thing to say that you are inexperienced so you won’t be able to survive here and will leave the job within six months. I started working for the development of the zoo, the first and major challenge for me was to turn the zoo into a profit making as it was making 42 lacs loss every year. In the year 1995, I came up with the idea of open tiger enclosures where visitors could see the tigers in an open area and also tigers were given natural surroundings instead of jail-like atmosphere. Then I came up with the Lion open enclosures in 2000, followed by Bear open enclosures in 2005 and also double-storeyed hospital for animals and birds in the zoo itself. I even came up with the scheme where citizens could adopt animals and pay for their daily activities. I came up with the idea of Reptile house, Butterfly Park and am also coming up with Nocturnal house and Crocodile open enclosure. Meanwhile, we have done lots of improvement in the infrastructure of the zoo. I also keep a regular check on the quality of food and its supply for animals and birds. Most of the animals and birds that had stopped breeding have started breeding and this is our biggest achievement. From Lions to deer and African parrots to pelicans everyone has started breeding. I have even used certain techniques which help them breed. We provide coolers and sprinklers in summer and heaters in winter to all the animals. In total, we have got more than 150 species of animals and birds in our zoo including Pythons and Anacondas. We are planning to bring Giraffe to this zoo. We also came up with amusement parks and water parks and have turned this loss making zoo into profit making. Today we stand amongst the best 14 Zoos in India. So far it has been 27 years since I am here as the Head of the Kankaria Zoo and the journey has been amazing. The love this city and the animals have given me is just inexpressible.
I don’t have any specific message for your readers but I would just say that love animals they too are part of our surroundings and do visit our zoo.”