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New home for jumbos at Zoo to be ready in a month

Kolkata: The elephant enclosure inside the Alipore Zoo that has been witnessing a facelift for the last few months will be ready in a month's time. The new home for the pachyderms will be spanning over 3.7 acres, thrice the size of the old enclosure. The widening of the space became imperative after the Central Zoo Authority prodded the zoo authorities for increasing the space for free movement of the jumbos.
"The enclosures for animals like leopards, hyena, and jackal needed to be shifted to another place to broaden the area of the elephants. Rani and Tithi — the two elephants are a major attraction in the zoo and particularly for the children. The waterbody at the front portion of the enclosure have been cleaned and beautified. Natural grass has been laid and shower has been fitted for the bathing of the elephants. The trees inside the new enclosure - Aswattha, Neem, Deodhar and Krishnachura – are surrounded by small brick walls so that the elephants can't uproot them," Zoo director Asis Kumar Samanta said adding that the animals love open space to roam around and enjoy the nature. It may be mentioned that in 2009, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) banned elephants in zoos but had made an exception for Alipore zoo and had told officials that they could keep two elephants at the most by expanding the 3,000 sqm enclosure by at least three times.
The zoo authorities were again prodded by CZA in 2015-16 and there was apprehension that the Zoo will lose the jumbos because of not being able to meet the CZA guidelines for keeping the elephants. After a number of sleepless nights, the zoo authorities in consultation with experts chalked out a comprehensive plan for widening of the elephant enclosure.
The elephants are presently kept in a shed in an enclosure out of public view while work is going on. "In the morning , their keeper popularly known as 'mahoot' takes them to the open space and allow them to roam around freely. They are extremely happy and we find it very difficult to take them back to the shed," a senior zoo official said.
The old elephant enclosure - with a moat, a shed and trees - was inaugurated in 1999 by the then chief minister Jyoti Basu. Before that, elephants used to remain chained in an enclosure one-tenth the size of the current one.
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