Mumbai: The civic body's proposal to procure zebras from Israel has been rejected by the Directorate General of Foreign Trades (DGFT). The Byculla zoo authority is now looking for zebras in other countries. However, this delay will mean Mumbaikars will also have to wait longer for a lion to arrive.
The Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan – popularly known as Rani Baug and the Byculla zoo – had decided to bring in two pairs of lions last year. The pairs were to be brought from the zoos of Junagadh and Indore in exchange for zebras. Accordingly, a proposal to buy zebras from Ramat Gan Safari Park in Tel Aviv, Israel, was cleared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The procurement cost was estimated to be around Rs 80 lakh. After approval, the proposal was sent to the DGFT a few months ago to get the final nod.
“The Central Government has informed us that we cannot buy zebras from Israel. Since the country is not in the updated list of The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Since we will only get lions in exchange of zebras, we will now approach some other countries to get them,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathy, director of the Byculla zoo. The OIE ensures transparency in the global animal disease situation.
The Byculla zoo is undergoing upgradation and renovation for the last few years. It is spread over 53 acres and additional acres have been procured for a third phase of expansion. The zoo had brought a pair of Bengal tigers – Shakti and Karishma – from Aurangabad in February 2020 and the female has given birth to a cub now known as Veera. A few months back, the zoo brought in a pair of leopards from Gorewada zoo in Nagpur. However, the zoo does not have a lion after the death of a lioness named Jimmy in 2014.
The zoo will also be a home to the black jaguar, cheetah, wallaby, chimpanzee, ring tail lemur, landfill monkey and the lesser flamingo. These exotic species will be housed in new enclosures which would be constructed over the seven acres of space taken over from Mafatlal Industries by the BMC in 2018.