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King of the jungle to make Mysore home

Shankar Bennur

Junagadh zoo to give a pair of Asiatic lions to Mysore zoo



Royal addition:This pair of Asiatic lions will be brought to the Mysore zoo from Junagadh in exchange for three Indian gaurs.

MYSORE: Visitors to Mysore zoo will soon hear the roar of the king of the jungle as Junagadh zoo (Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden) in Gujarat is giving a pair of Asiatic lions to the zoo here.

The Mysore zoo is one of the country's key centres for conservation of endangered species. The management had approached the Junagadh zoo long ago requesting that it give a pair of Asiatic lions which are found only in the Gir forests of Gujarat.

Kumble's plea

The Junagadh zoo did not “consider” the request until the former skipper of the Indian Test cricket team Anil Kumble, who is also the vice-chairman of the Karnataka Wildlife Board stepped in.

Mr. Kumble, who is known as the “gentle giant” of Indian cricket and “Jumbo” in cricket circles, was requested by the zoo management to put in a word with the Gujarat Government.

Accordingly, Mr. Kumble persuaded the Gujarat Government to sanction the pair of lions to the zoo.

The Junagadh zoo then agreed to provide the lion pair in exchange for three Indian gaurs which are bred in the zoo here to which the Mysore zoo agreed. Confirming the development, Mysore zoo Executive Director and Conservator of Forests K.B. Markandeya told The Hindu that the paperwork was completed and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) had given its approval for the exchange of animals. “The lion pair is slated to arrive here shortly,” he added.

Mr. Markandeya said the director of Junagadh zoo was coming to Mysore on December 20 to see the gaurs. “We are making the preparations for the transportation of the gaurs and also some birds to the Gujarat zoo,” he said.

He said that chairman of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka Nanjundaswamy and Mysore Mayor Sandesh Swamy had visited Junagadh zoo recently.

“The cricketer's request to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to sanction the lion pair ultimately bore fruit. Usually, the Junagadh zoo does not give lions to other zoos,” Mr. Markandeya said.

Sources in the zoo said that only a few zoos in the country housed the Asiatic lion. The Junagadh zoo is world renowned as it breeds lions which are then released into the Gir forests. “The Mysore zoo has also requested Mr. Kumble to request the Assam Chief Minister to sanction a pair of Indian rhinoceroses from the Kaziranga National Park,” the sources added.

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