Amid the coronavirus lockdown Mumbaikars finally get a glimpse of Royal Bengal Tiger Shakti (3) and tigress Karishma (5) beating the heat in their water enclosures at Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Byculla zoo) on Tuesday.
Inspired by Ranthambore terrain the water exhibits designed for the two felines are one of its kind across India.The landscaping of the 3,500 sq metre expanse, a recreation of the indigenous habitat of the forest at Ranthambore National Park, complete with bamboo, neem trees and other prairie flora was created before the pair of felines arrived from Aurangabad cost Rs 3.5 crore.
"Located in Rajasthan, at the junction of the Aravalli and Vindhya hill ranges, Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest national parks in the country with a dense tiger population. The tiger exhibit in Byculla zoo with water enclosures and glass before viewing gallery is one of its kind in India," said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director of Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Byculla Zoo).
Accordingly, zoo officials, the plan develop flora, fauna, landscape and terrain in the 3,500 square-metre tiger enclosure that replicates the conditions in Ranthambore was a practical option since the Ranthambore national park has a dense population of tigers.
The zoo has not had a tiger since 2006, till authorities procured a pair earlier in February, from Siddharth Zoo, Aurangabad, under an exchange programme. The pair of tigers from Siddharth Zoo were sent to Byculla zoo in February this year in exchange for two pairs of spotted deers and two pairs of painted storks. However, even before people could enjoy the glimpse of these majestic pair of tigers, coronavirus outbreak happened, following which zoo had to be closed down around mid-March, Tripathi told The Free Press Journal.
Apart from tigers, Byculla Zoo also houses a pair of leopards that were brought from Mangaluru’s Pilikula zoo in April 2019. Additionally, eight Humboldt penguins – three males and five females – from South Korea were sent to Byculla Zoo in July 2016 and have been on public display since March 2017. Byculla Zoo is also expected to get battery-operated vans for visitors to roam around zoo premises.