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Mariappan leaves for Vandalur zoo

S.Ganesan

The 23-year-old elephant had 15-year stint with Samayapuram Temple

—Photo:M. Moorthy

free from shackles: Temple elephant Mariappan being coaxed to board a truck to be transported to the Vandalur zoo, in Tiruchi on Thursday.

TIRUCHI: Mariappan, the 23-year-old elephant of Arulmigu Mariamman Temple at Samayapuram was transported from here to Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur on Thursday evening.

The elephant was being taken to the zoological park as it had been restive, especially during the masth period, since 2002. Mariappan, kept chained, had been at the temple for the past 15 years. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, R.Sundararaju, had recently issued an order for shifting the elephant to the zoo.

On Thursday, Mariappan was brought out of its shed along with Saraswathi, a privately owned female elephant, so as to give him some “psychological support.” The elephant was coaxed into boarding the truck (with scaffolding built around it) by climbing over a ramp at around 9 p.m.

The operation was supervised by N.S.Manoharan, Wildlife Veterinary Officer, Coimbatore Circle, even as Sukumaran, the mahout, and a couple of elephant handlers brought in from Top Slip, cajoled the elephant to climb on to the truck.

Though there were apprehensions that Mariappan could turn aggressive after being kept tethered for so long, the operation went off smoothly. “Mariappan was extremely well behaved during the operation and boarded the truck rather quickly. Though I was equipped with a tranquiliser gun, there was no need to use it,” said Dr.Manoharan, who was accompanying the elephant to Vandalur along with the elephant handlers.

I.Anwardeen, District Forest Officer, B.Bharathi, Executive Officer, Samayapuram Mariamman Temple, and other officials were present.

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