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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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5 more days for leonine names

The countdown for the regal christening has begun. Tata Steel Zoological Park authorities in Jamshedpur are only five days away from finding names for their five pure-bred African lion cubs and a tawny Royal Bengal princess.

The zoo, in a unique gesture to involve animal lovers, had decided to hand them the job of naming the six cubs, a process that ended on Monday.

Over 1,000 entries have been collected in the two designated boxes that were kept at the entrance and information centre of the zoo.

On October 7, the last day of Wildlife Week, eminent citizens of the steel city will randomly select lucky names from the entries, and voila, the regal six will get their long-awaited names.

Those whose names will win the game of luck will get free family passes for four to the zoo for a whole year.

“The response has been overwhelming. I am sure the cubs will get names worthy of their regal stature,” said Seema Rani, biologist and education officer of the zoo who is co-ordinating the name game.

The forms, she said, had basic information like the species and gender of cubs.

Four girl and two boy names are needed, with three lionesses, one tigress and two lions on the waiting list.

“The idea of naming five baby African lions and a tiger cub really tickled the fancy of visitors who came in droves to collect the forms,” Seema said.

Initially, they had planned to distribute the forms in schools, but dropped it later.

“We wanted to keep the event exclusive for zoo visitors. We wanted every visitor to be a part of the christening,” Seema explained.

Zoo director Bipul Chakravarty said naming the “six celebrities” was the star attraction of Wildlife Week. “Other draws include nature walks, awards for essayists, eco-club teachers and zoo staff, as well as debates, a quiz, fancy dress and sit-and-draw contests.”