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Pimpri’s crowd puller falls silent

Thirteen-year-old Raja,a leopard-born in Pune and brought up in Pimpri-Chinchwad-died of old age at PCMC-run Bahinabai zoo early Sunday morning.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
July 21, 2009 4:39:39 am

Born in Pune,brought up in Pimpri-Chinchwad,13-year-old Raja’s death means there is no ‘attraction’ left in PCMC zoo now

Thirteen-year-old Raja,a leopard — born in Pune and brought up in Pimpri-Chinchwad — died of old age at PCMC-run Bahinabai zoo early Sunday morning. Unlike his breed,Raja was not the ferocious kind. He apparently had “humane” qualities which made him everybody’s favourite at the zoo. “Yes,in Raja’s death we have lost a friend,” said zoo director Anilkumar Khaire.

Khaire said Raja was a hand-reared animal. He was born in Katraj zoo in 1997 and a year later brought to Pimpri-Chinchwad. Since then Raja had been a resident of Pimpri-Chinchwad and regaled the crowd with a big roar — but only when needled by somebody. Otherwise,Raja loved to roll in cage or lie upside down,in his quiet ways. Most of the time looking on as the belligerent crowd threw stones or foodstuffs to push the leopard into active zone.

Raja,said Khaire,was a different kind of an animal. “Our zoo staff was never afraid of going close to Raja. He never pounced on them or caused any injury. That is because we brought him up like a child,” said Khaire. “We were all touched by his friendliness. In his death,a real crowd puller has been lost,” Khaire said. Raja leaves behind his companion who looks distraught after the mate’s sudden disappearance.

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Indeed,many citizens share Khaire’s opinion that Raja was the real crowd puller. “Without Raja,there is hardly anything in the zoo now,” says V Narute,a resident of Sangvi. The fact is for real. One snake here and another there. One bird here,a few others in another cage. Or some ducklings popping out of dirty water. The zoo seems to be a place cobbed up desparately by the PCMC to keep people in good humour for a few moment. Though location and environ is soothing,the Bahinabai zoo of the PCMC is not the zoo in the true sense,say civic activists. It can’t even measure up to the Katraj zoo. Activists say despite overflowing with money,the PCMC administration has given the animal world a raw deal.

Zoo director Anilkumar Khaire who along with PCMC veterinary chief Satish Gore are among the very people in Pimpri-Chinchwad who know the animal world so closely. Yet,both of them remain under fire for doing little to spur the zoo and make it an attractive place. Activists say fortunately Pimpri-Chinchwad has a commissioner who has worked in the state animal husbandary department and has fair knowledge of the animal world. “Why can’t the three of them team up and plan a grand zoo for Pimpri-Chinchwad?,” asks Jayant Kariya,a resident of Dapodi. An opinion shared by several civic conscious citizens of the twin industrial town.

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