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Friday, January 21, 2022

Byculla zoo gets CZA nod to procure zebras from Israel, to be exchanged for Asiatic lions

The zoo officials clarified that the money is not payment for Ramat Gan Safari Park, but will pay for transportation, crates, veterinary caring and handling of animals.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: December 12, 2021 8:45:25 am
A Mandai Wildlife Group spokesman said the lions needed to be sedated so that they could be transported to its animal quarantine facility in Mandai. (File)

The Central Zoo Authority’s (CZA) technical committee has approved Byculla zoo’s plan to procure two pairs of zebras from the Ramat Gan Safari Park in Israel. The BMC earlier this year had sought approval from the CZA to procure the animals from the foreign zoo.

Thailand’s Goatrade Farming Company Limited was awarded the contract last year to procure and transport these zebras to Sakkarbaug Zoological Park at Junagadh in Gujarat and Kamla Nehru Prani Sangrahalaya in Indore, in exchange for which Byculla zoo would receive Asiatic lions. The BMC is likely to spend Rs 82 lakh for the same.

The zoo officials clarified that the money is not payment for Ramat Gan Safari Park, but will pay for transportation, crates, veterinary caring and handling of animals. The bid floated last year for the selection of contractor had read, “We want to procure four zebras – two males and two females – from foreign zoos only by way of donation, gift, disposal of the surplus animal, exchange of animals, etc. We will not purchase animals.”

With the nod from CZA, the Byculla zoo administration will now seek approval from various state and central government departments as well as international agencies like CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) – an agreement between foreign governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of species.

Zoo Director Sanjay Tripathi said, “Since we have received a nod from CZA’s technical committee, we will start with the next set of permissions, including nod from the central government, animal husbandry department, state’s wildlife wing, CITES and finally approval from the director general of foreign trade.”

The procurement of zebras from an international zoo became necessary after the CZA directed the Byculla zoo to provide animals in exchange to Junagadh and Indore zoos in 2019 but it did not have animals for the same. Under existing rules, animals have to be bartered between zoos. The CZA regulates exchange of animals of endangered category listed under Schedule I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, between zoos.

The latest entrant to Byculla zoo was a pair of Bengal tigers – Shakti and Karishma – brought from Siddharth Garden and Zoo in Aurangabad in exchange for two male and two female spotted deer. The Mumbai zoo, till 2005, was home to three lions. It doesn’t have a lion in captivity since 2014. The last surviving lioness was Jimmy, the 16-year-old African-Asiatic hybrid, who died in 2014 due to prolonged illness. Jimmy was an African-Asiatic hybrid born on March 28, 1998, in the zoo. In 2010, a 22-year-old purebred Asiatic lioness, Anita, passed away due to old age

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