Ram Brahma Sanyal (1858 – 13 October 1908) was the first Indian superintendent of the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata (then Calcutta). He was a pioneer in captive breeding, and was one of the first zookeepers trained as a biologist. He was a corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London and wrote a handbook on keeping and breeding animals in captivity – A Handbook of the Management of Animals in Captivity in Lower Bengal (1892) which was reviewed in the journal Nature (4 August 1892).[2][3] This was the standard handbook for zookeepers for over 50 years until Lee Crandall published The Management of Wild Mammals in Captivity in 1964. His scientific methods led to the rare birth of a live Sumatran rhinoceros in 1889, an event that was not seen in captivity until 2001.[4][5][6]

Ram Brahma Sanyal
রামব্রহ্ম সান্যাল
Ram Brahma Sanyal
Died13 October 1908 (aged 50)
Occupation(s)Zoologist, animal trainer

Biography edit

R. B. Sanyal was born in Lalgola, Murshidabad District of present-day West Bengal in 1858 at his maternal uncle's house. His native place was a village named Mahula in Murshidabad District, West Bengal.[1] Son of Baidyanath Sanyal, he passed the Entrance examination from Baharampur College.[7] He came to Calcutta for studies, and joined the Calcutta Medical College, probably in 1870. He gave up his studies on the recommendation of doctors as he developed eye problems. Among early influences on his career was that of George King, botanist and the superintendent of the Indian Botanical Gardens in Shibpur (then the Royal Botanic Gardens), who was a faculty at the Calcutta Medical College.[8]

Publication of the handbook and other writings edit

Sanyal published notes based on observations at the zoo in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.[9][10][11]

Recognition edit

Dedication by Frank Finn in his Garden and Aviary Birds of India, 1915

Among Sanyal's most notable scientific publications were three scientific papers published in the Proceedings of the London Zoological Society in the years 1893–1895:

  • Notes on a hybrid between the Semnopithecus phayrei Blyth and S. cristatus, November 1893 pp. 615 – 616
  • Notes on Cynogale bennetti Gray, March 1894, pp. 296 – 297
  • On the moulting of the Great Bird of Paradise with brief notes upon its habits in captivity, June 1895, pp. 541 – 542

Final years edit

In his final years in office, Sanyal outlined plans of acquiring animals from other places like South India and Africa, based on a system of exchange and purchase. He died while holding office, on 13 October 1908.[12]

Other activities edit

Sanyal was also a member of the Brahmo Samaj, a Hindu reformist movement of the late 19th century centered in Kolkata. Sanyal donated a large amount of money for the purchase of land for building the Brahmo Sammilan Samaj.[13]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), (1976), Samsad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary), (in Bengali), p 479
  2. ^ Walker, S.: Ram Brahma Sanyal – the first zoo biologist. Zoos' Print Journal Vol. 15, No. 5 (1999): p. 9.
  3. ^ Kisling, V.N.: Zoo history and the Sanyal legacy. Zoos' Print Vol. 14, No. 4 (1999): p. 2
  4. ^ Rhino loses fetus, Cincinnati Post, 14 November 1997 (Cincinnati Zoo recorded the next live birth in 2001)
  5. ^ Transcript of R. B. Sanyal interview at SOS Rhino
  6. ^ Staff reporter, A big, beautiful baby, Cincinnati Post, 21 September 2001
  7. ^ Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), (1976/1998), Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (in Bengali), p486, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
  8. ^ Mitra, D. K. (1992). "Role of Ram Brahma Sanyal in initiating zoological researches on the animals in captivity" (PDF). Indian Journal of History of Science. 27 (3).[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Sanyal, R.B. (1903) Notes on Animals Observed at the Alipore zoological Garden No.III. Melanic apecimens of Common palm Squirrel (Sciurus Palmarum Linn). Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 71(3):137–138.
  10. ^ Sanyal, R.B. (1903) Note on Animals Observed at the Alipore Zoological Garden No. 2. a brief note on the "Doctrine of Telegony" with Reference to facts Observed in the Zoological Gardens Calcutta. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 71(3):132–132.
  11. ^ Sanyal, R.B. (1903) Notes on Animals Kept in the Alipore Zoological Garden. No. I. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 71(2):92–93.
  12. ^ Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali, p486.
  13. ^ Website of the Brahmo Sammilan Samaj

External links edit