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SOS Rhino : In the News : Zoo rhino waits for a suitable match!

Zoo rhino waits for a suitable match!
Afternoon, Bombay, India
A STAFF REPORTER | Tuesday, March 08, 2005 13:27:57 IST

Following HC order, Byculla Zoo authorities have started efforts to end Shiva's single status

It is a quiet sunny afternoon and Shiva, the 26-year-old sole male rhino at the Byculla Zoo tries to beat the scorching March heat by splashing into the water in the enclosure he is kept in. But sometimes he comes out of the water and rubs himself against the stump of a big tree. He has been doing so, since the time, he was brought from Assam some two decades ago. He has been living a solitary life since then. Shiva might get a mate for himself after the Bombay High Court now directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to quicken the pace of getting a female rhino and a deadline of a year has been given to the BMC. Now the zoo authorities are having talks with the Assam government to get a female rhino. "An Assamese female rhino has already been identified for Shiva. The Asian State Zoo Authority is waiting for an approval from the Chief Secretary of Assam State," says Dr. M. V. Wani, Deputy Superintendent of Byculla Zoo. But the animal rights group, People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA) is doubtful if Shiva will get a female rhino at all.

Anuradha Swahney, Chief functionary, PETA, says, "If the zoo authorities could not get a female rhino for the past 15 years, I am very doubtful if they can do so in an year's time." She, however, insists that the conditions in the zoo should improve. "Before they get a female rhino from Assam, the conditions in the zoo should improve." Shiva is kept in a cramped pen of less than 2000 sq. mts. "Presently the animal is living in a barren enclosure. But if a female rhinoceros is to be brought in, the enclosure size must increase," adds Swahney. Ironically, the board hung outside the enclosure giving a brief description of the rhino states: Rhinoceros lives in tall grassy areas having sufficient water bodies and feeds on grasses, leaves and aquatic plants. Wani adds, "If needed, we will arrange the pair to be shifted to a larger enclosure." Talking about lack of space for animals in the zoo, Wani responds, "We have been looking at having a land for a zoo at Goregaon. And we are now waiting for the government to make the land available." According to Wani, if all the excess animals are sent to a zoo outside the state then the new zoo will have to get animals from outside.

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