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Tata zoo not to part with lion cubs

Jamshedpur zoo is in no mood to share its new-found royal glory with anyone.

Tata Steel Zoological Park, which became India’s first zoo after 1947 to get blue-blooded African lion cubs from National Zoological Gardens, Pretoria, has ruled out sending any of its royal residents to Ranchi’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ormanjhi.

Just like a proud and protective parent, the zoo will not only keep the five beautiful cubs — boys Ed and Jumbo and girls Salya, Zoya and Kimu — to itself but also nurture and breed them with care.

The Ranchi zoo is said to have wanted two of the five lion cubs, who were lovingly named by Jamshedpur residents through a lottery and then christened officially in a ceremony. A pair was supposed to be sent to the 250-acre Ormanjhi zoo by December-end. This apart, two other zoos based outside Jharkhand had also shown interest in them.

However, officials at the Jamshedpur facility maintained that there was no official request from Birsa zoo. “There have been no written application either from Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park or from the other zoos. Besides, right now, the management is yet to take a call. It will be very difficult to part with the cubs for all of us,” said Rajnish Kumar, a member of Tata Steel Zoological Society.

Zoo vet Manik Palit agreed.

“There is huge demand for the cubs and it is for the management to take a final call. However, we have not received any written request from anybody,” he said.

Other zoo officials reasoned it was a Herculean task to bring the five lion cubs from National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, South Africa. The society spent about Rs 20 lakh to transport the royal animals to Jamshedpur. Besides, a number of formalities had to be taken care of with the governments of India and South Africa. “After all the hard work that we did, we should we send our prized possessions to any other zoo?” asked an official.

The cubs were a year old when they reached Jamshedpur on June 21 and were named in the first week of October as part of Wildlife Week celebrations.

“They are very active and are gradually growing up among themselves. The staff take good care of them,” Palit said.