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Deer relief from dust for Tata zoo big cats

- Marine Drive widening triggers pollution alarm, authorities plan modalities of shifting carnivores to herbivore turf

Cement dust doesn’t fear royalty. On the contrary, royal lungs have to fear air pollution and respiratory problems.

Tata Steel Zoological Park, Jamshedpur, scared of the harm to resident big cats from dust raised by the adjoining Marine Drive road-widening project, will soon tuck away its prized lions, tigers and leopards from their existing enclosures to the verdant Safari Park, the turf of deer, inside the 92-acre zoo.

Very soon, the frisky lion quintet of Zoya, Kimu, Salya, Ed and Jumbo, will join the Royal Bengal Tiger family of Raghav, Shanti and daughter Dona at the seven-acre deer park.

If that wasn’t enough, they will all be joined by as many as eight leopards — cubs Bobby, Satya and Albatross, male adults Mithun and Basant and their female counterparts Basanti, Shiva and Etu.

Big cats apart, other species who will be shifted to the deer park to avoid air pollution and related respiratory problems are sloth bears, langurs, emus and an ostrich.

The Marine Drive project, where the road is being widened into four lanes, will get over only in summer.

The zoo is also raising a section of its own boundary wall to protect itself from break-ins. The 3.5km-long wall extends from Jusco Parks and Gardens office to the sales tax office near old civil court, but of that the height of only 1.2km — covering the most vulnerable areas — is being raised.

“Increased air pollution due to the Marine Drive project is our major concern. But work on our own boundary wall can also be a source of discomfort for animals as far as noise and dust go. That’s why we are very serious about shifting animals most affected by construction,” zoo director Bipul Chakravarty said, adding that the only silver lining was that the reinforced concrete cement of the wall absorbed most of the sounds.

Where does this leave the deer? The zoo has around 35 deer who would be frightened out of their wits to have neighbours like the big cats.

Pretty tigress Dona may be as cute as a button, but the deer wouldn’t find her so.

Stating the obvious, the zoo director said the temporarily lodged animals would have their own enclosures.

“As we are extremely concerned about the health of animals living in the vulnerable zone, we will shift them to our Deer Safari. But we are equally concerned about the safety of the deer. We are working out modalities based on Central Zoo Authority guidelines,” Chakravarty said.

The ongoing Marine Drive project, worth Rs 120-crore, is tentatively slated to finish by April.

Will the big cats and deer be comfortable as neighbours? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com