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Zoo big cats to prowl back to nature

- CM to open new enclosure

Patna, Dec. 14: This winter, children can expect to have a roaring time, albeit briefly, at the zoo watching the big cats frolic in a bigger and greener conservation area under the balmy sun.

A small problem, however, is proving to be a hurdle. The Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park authorities have completed work on the 3,000sqm area in a secluded portion of the existing 1,000sqm lions’ enclosure. But they are waiting for chief minister Nitish Kumar to come and inaugurate it so that the lions can enjoy their natural habitat.

“The lions’ enclosure is ready and we are looking forward to get dates from the chief minister for the inauguration. Once opened, we would shift a few lions to the conservation area. Initially, they would be visible to visitors. Later, it would be made a complete off-display area to let them enjoy their natural environs,” said S. Chandrashekhar, the zoo director.

The new area, developed at an estimated Rs 71.22 lakh, has caves and hilly terrain among other landscaping measures so as to provide a natural forest-like environment to at least 10 lions.

Of the seven lions at the zoo at present, two are male, three female and two cubs. Of the three lionesses, two are African Hybrid and the third is Asiatic. The remaining lions are Asiatic.

The zoo has also sent a proposal to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for developing a new enclosure for leopards. “The existing enclosure has got outdated. A new one with a better display of animals is needed. We have sent a preliminary proposal to CZA and a detailed project report for the new enclosure is being made,” said Chandrashekhar. There are three leopards at the zoo at present.

The zoo authorities are in the process of re-opening the existing nocturnal house after some renovation. “We are trying to modify the nocturnal house for which we are visiting other zoos. A senior official from here has already visited Hyderabad zoo for this purpose and I would be going to Nandankanan zoo for the same.”

The zoo authorities are in the process of sending 12 gharials to Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bettiah for release in the Gandak. “A proposal in this regard has been approved by the state environment and forests department and we are in the process of making the shifting containers. The shifting process would start as soon as we receive funds for this purpose,” said Chandrashekhar.

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