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Give us leopards, take any animal you want: Byculla zoo to SGNP

Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan, which does not have any big cats on display, will get two leopards after its renovation is complete

One of India’s oldest zoos, Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan (Byculla Zoo), can boast of having leopards soon. After the zoo authorities wrote to their counterparts at Sanjay Gandhi National Park asking SGNP to give them leopards in exchange for any animal the zoo has in surplus — two leopards have been reserved for transfer.

The zoo will boast of two of these big cats
The zoo will boast of two of these big cats

The zoo currently has only one lioness, Jimmy, and her health complications (see box) have ensured that even she can’t be seen by visitors. The 16-year-old lioness has been unwell for a year now and is being treated in the zoo’s hospital. The last time the zoo had a tiger was in 2005 and Jimmy and her deceased partner Anita were the only big cats in the zoo after that.

Renovation is on at the zoo and it is expected to be completed by March 2015. Apart from the leopards, the zoo will also have fauna like jaguars, zebras, Humboldt penguins, exotic marine fish, tigers, Asiatic lions, wild dogs, bison and deer when the renovation is complete.

Sanjay Tripathi, veterinarian and deputy superintendent of the zoo, said, “Yes, we have written a letter asking SGNP for leopards since we don’t have big cats. In fact, we have written to various other zoos as well to give us exotic animals.”

Confirming this, SGNP Director and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Vikas Gupta said, “Sometime back, the Byculla Zoo authorities had approached us asking for two leopards from the SGNP Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. We have already kept two reserved for them and once the formalities are completed, the animals will be handed over.”

Zoo patient
A veterinary doctor from the zoo told mid-day that Jimmy, the ailing lioness, has had two cardiac arrests one major, and the second minor. “She needs to consume 20 tablets a daily to stay fit. She is 16 years old and gets nervous when she sees any visitor and, hence, she cannot be kept in a cage.”

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