The 124-year-old Veer Jijamata Bhonsale Udyan zoo in south-central Mumbai, one of the oldest zoos in the country, is likely to get a new look in the near future. Popularly known as Byculla Zoo, it will soon undergo a major makeover at a cost of Rs 150 crore, more than six years after this was first proposed.
As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prepares to send the final proposal for approval to the Central Zoo Authority this month, Newsline takes a look at the few remaining “attractions” at the existing zoo.
Jimmy, the lioness
Once the star attraction, Jimmy, the 15-year-old African-Asiatic hybrid lioness, is now confined to the zoo’s in-house quarantine area. The last surviving big cat, Jimmy was born at the zoo to an African lion Amar and Asiatic lioness Anita on March 28, 1998. Jimmy is kept away from public view as she is suffering from arthritis and paraplegia. “Jimmy is now walking and plays around, but chances of her returning to the enclosure are slim. She has suffered loss of muscle mass and is old and needs constant care,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, veterinarian and deputy superintendent of the zoo.
Elephants Laxmi and Anarkali
The majestic pachyderms are housed in separate enclosures located in a compound that has a grassy plain admeasuring more than 2000 sqm with a deep semi-circular moat in front. Both female elephants are looked after by their mahout Sajid Khan and his assistant Jamal Ahmed Khan. The mahout describes the 54-year-old Laxmi, who was acquired by the zoo in 1977 from Venus Circus, as moody and hot-tempered. Anarkali, the “friendlier”one, is approximately 48 years old and was acquired from animal dealers Sherfuddin & Co. The elephants are confined to their cement ‘rooms’ for most part of the day, where they are fed and bathed. The elephants get an oil bath twice a week and are given a bath every day.
Hippopotamus Deva, Shilpa and Khushi
The two females and a male hippo are kept in two separate enclosures to avoid breeding. Deva, the lone male hippo, was born at the zoo in 1991. Khushi, the oldest, was born at the zoo in 1981, while Shilpa was born at the zoo in 1997.
Himalayan Bear Jamuna
A cave-like enclosure houses the lone Himalayan bear at the zoo. Jamuna, the female bear, is approximately 34 years old and was acquired from the Delhi zoo in 1993 in exchange for some rare birds.
The two male hyenas were brought from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali, where they were born in 1992.
The 12-foot-long python is approximately 20 years old and was donated to the zoo.
Other curious creatures:
This albino porcupine was born in the zoo in 2005.
These albino crows donated by public after they were caught in Kalyan, said zoo officials.