Barely three months ago, a pair of pure Asiatic lions — Tejas and Subhi — were brought to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, also known as Katraj Zoo. Within their short stay at the zoo, the lions have even managed to find a family who has adopted them under the animal adoption scheme. On Sunday morning, nearly 20 members of the city-based Kasar family could be seen thronging around the lions’ enclosure, introducing themselves as their “aai”, “brother”, “sister”, “maami”, “kaka” etc. The animals have been adopted by KK Travels and the family members were related to Kedar Kasar, the owner of KK Travels.
KK Travels has adopted the pair for a period of one year by paying Rs four lakh under the animal adoption scheme. Kasar said, “Since childhood, we have heard and read that lion is the king of the jungle. When I came to know that Katraj Zoo will be getting a pair of lions, the idea of developing an association with the lion germinated in me. Last week, I contacted the zoo authorities to inquire about the adoption programme and finalised it on Saturday. It was a special feeling to meet Tejas and Subhi on Sunday as they are a part of our family now. All of us were very excited.”
While the Kasar family stays at Sahakarnagar, the office of KK Travels is located at Katraj. And, thus, Kasar says that he may drop in at the zoo every 15 days to check on the lions. Interestingly, Kasar added that now that the bond has been made with the lions pair, KK Travels may continue to adopt them in the future too. Though Tejas and Subhi, both around six-year-old, arrived at the zoo a few months ago, the pair was kept under quarantine according to the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority. Now, they have been moved to the enclosure. They were on display for the first time for the public on Sunday and will now continue to be on display. Tejas and Subhi were brought under animal exchange programme from Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden in Junagadh in exchange of a species of birds.
The introduction of the Asiatic lions pair is expected to increase the footfalls at the zoo manifold, says Rajkumar Jadhav, director of Katraj Zoo. “Since the time the news of the lions coming to the zoo has reached the public, the zoo has been getting a number of queries almost daily, asking when they will be put on display. It will definitely increase the visitors at the zoo, especially during the summer vacations. People will now come specially to see the lions,” said Jadhav.
Jadhav pointed out that it was very rare for a firm to come forward to adopt any animal. In the past, the animals have been adopted only by individuals. The last time any firm came forward to adopt an animal was about six years ago, when a pair of tiger was adopted for one year. “It is the second time that a company (KK Travels) has come forward to adopt an animal for a longer duration,” said Jadhav.