one big happy family? Birsa zoo in Ranchi
A mortified Ranchi, which has recently earned the dubious distinction of being Patna’s terror cousin, has found an elephantine reason to cheer over its bizarre kinship with the Bihar capital.
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has labelled Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan in Patna “inept and cluttered” and directed it to shift its lone jumbo resident to the larger Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ormanjhi, 20km from Ranchi.
The decision was taken during a two-day elephant conclave from October 25 in New Delhi. The findings of CZA’s Elephant Appraisal Committee were discussed to issue the order in the presence of representatives from all zoos across the country.
For Birsa zoo, this is a double cracker of a news before Diwali because it means that its own elephant trio are not going anywhere. A couple of years ago, the CZA had issued a nationwide ban on housing the gentle giants in zoos, most of which are cramped.
“The ambiguity has been cleared. After the directive from CZA, we had drawn up a plan to set up an elephant rescue centre in Dalma. But, funds crunch came in the way. So, it was once again decided that Birsa zoo’s elephant trio will go to Palamau Tiger Reserve and Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary. However, the CZA has now categorically asked our zoo to keep them all. The jumbo family will only get bigger when the elephant from Sanjay Gandhi zoo arrives,” said a forest department official.
Vet Ajay Kumar maintained that Lakhi, Ramu and Samrat were in the pink of health. “The reason behind this is that we have enough room for them in our park. Every day, we make them walk for 20-25km within the park, which keeps them fit,” he said.
Birsa zoo sprawls over 175 hectares (433 acres), while its lesser cousin in Patna has room of around 153 hectares. Kumar, who had attended the conclave, said the guest from Patna would have enough room too.
“Normally, an elephant requires one to 1.2 acre (depending upon its size) to survive happily. Lakhi, Ramu and Samrat have a three-acre home here. We are planning expansion of the park to house half a dozen elephants,” he said, adding that the CZA had recommended conversion of a section of the park into a jumbo care centre. “Work on the project has begun. Once it is done, rescued elephants can be adopted too.”
The CZA directive has, meanwhile, left Patna zoo grumpy. A senior official, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the elephant transfer order, but said the park management strongly deplored the decision and would seek intervention of the Nitish Kumar government.
“Any animal in a zoo is state property. We will write to the government to take a call. The Centre cannot all of a sudden direct us to give away our elephant. The CZA said our zoo is overcrowded, but then so is most zoos. In that case, none should be allowed to keep elephants. Besides, we bought this elephant in the late 70s. No one gets our animal for free. We will send necessary recommendations to the government. Let’s see what happens next,” he added.
How can Birsa zoo give its new guest a better home?