The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 27 , 2012
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Chance to play a royal name game

You have probably felt a surge of pride after naming your pet dog Goofy and your Siamese cat Princess. How about a shot at naming the lords of the jungle?

Jamshedpur residents will get a chance to name five African lion cubs and a Bengal tiger cub. It’s up to Calcutta to beat them at the name game.

The authorities of Jamshedpur’s Tata Steel Zoological Park have decided to mark Wildlife Week, celebrated across India between October 1 and 7, by inviting visitors to name six of its youngest guests: the five one-year-old lion cubs that arrived last week from South Africa, and the daughter of the zoo’s Bengal Tiger couple, Shanti and Raghav, who is just two months old.

The authorities want Jamshedpur residents to write a name of their choice on a chit of paper and drop it into boxes that will be specially installed around the zoo.

The exercise will continue throughout Wildlife Week. Afterwards, the drop-boxes will be emptied and the zoo authorities will choose six names from the many options through random lottery.

“We will keep this scheme (of naming the cubs) open to all residents of Jamshedpur,” said zoo director Bipul Chakravarty. “The idea is to let people feel that the cubs are like youngsters in their family.”

The scheme, said the authorities, will need some fine-tuning — for instance, how many drop-boxes would be installed and at which spots, whether people will write their names and addresses on the chit besides the suggested name, or whether multiple entries would be allowed.

The zoo authorities are no strangers to name-giving. Big cats Ben, Shyamali, Shanti, Basanti, Mohini, Sher Khan and others had been named by them. But this is the first time that the responsibility has been made a more participatory effort.

“This time, we thought of giving animal lovers a chance,” Chakravarty said. “And we hope many interesting names will come up from children. They have a fertile imagination.”

Wildlife Week draws children in thousands to the zoo. “We host several activities — painting contests, essay writing competitions, debates, quizzes and the very popular fancy dress parade,” Chakravarty said.

The two lions and three lionesses are doing well in quarantine, he added.

Dipankar Biswas, regional officer of the animal quarantine certification service of the department of animal husbandry and dairy, concluded his two-day visit to the zoo on Sunday. “I am highly satisfied with the facilities provided by the zoo management at the quarantine unit for the lion cubs,” he said.

He will be back in July to formally issue a certificate that will allow people to see the lions.

Once people actually see the lions from up close, they would be able to name them better, feel the authorities.

If Jamshedpur residents have been given a rare chance to play a royal name game, Calcutta doesn’t need to be feel left out. After all, it was here that the cubs first got a taste of India — with a large helping of boneless chicken, no less!

So put on your thinking hats and give the lions a name they can bear with pride.

And no Goofy, Cuddly or Pinky, please. They are jungle royalty, remember?

What would you name the five lion cubs? Tell