June 17, 2003
Shiva is a healthy, handsome, 25-year-old,
but he’s had surprisingly
rotten luck with finding a mate.
That he has a tail and four legs is
a minor detail. The only rhinoceros at Jijamata Udyan, Byculla,
is a lonely animal today, as
zoo authorities’ repeated
requests to other zoos around the world for a mate for him have yielded no result.
According to K Vellodi, garden superintendent at the zoo, they have been sending
out requests for over two decades.
We have sent numerous letters to various zoos, but there has been little or no
response. Also, as there is a ban on procuring animals from the wild for zoos,
it makes it imperative that we acquire one only from another zoo,” said
Brought from the Assam zoo as a baby,
Shiva is a favourite with zoo attendants. And although rules stipulate
that all animals must have a mate as it is “good
for them”, Shiva hasn’t let the absence of one get him down too much.
He is a ‘people’s animal’ and seems thrilled with the attention
lavished on him by visitors.
He bounds to the periphery of his enclosure
as soon as he spots someone and stands
gazing at visitors for hours.
Speaking about Shiva’s single status, Dr S
Karawale from the zoo said since rhinos live for 50 years or more, Shiva would
still have the capacity to mate
for a few more years.
Meanwhile, zoo officials continue with
their unceasing endeavour to find a mate
Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 9 years, and females at 4.
Breeding occurs throughout the year. Only dominant bulls mate.
After a gestation period of 480 days, a single young one is born weighing around
Weaning usually occurs within one year, but could sometimes last up to 18 months.
Females have young ones at intervals of about three years.
A week before the next birth, the female chases away her previous calf.
The Indian rhinoceros has one horn
and has skin with loose folds, which make it appear armoured. These
characteristics distinguish it from the
It weighs 1,600 kg (female) - 2,200
kg (male) (3,500-4,800 lb).
The Indian rhino
has been found in a number of habitats, including marshy lowland and reedbeds,
tall grass or bush.
The Indian rhino mainly eats grass,
reeds and twigs, feeding mostly in the morning and evening. It
is usually solitary and
spends long periods lying in water and
wallowing in mud.
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