World Elephant Day: Bengaluru zoo fetes mahouts, Hyderabad treats 82-year-old Rani and other tuskers
Bengaluru (IANS): Bengaluru Zoo commemorated World Elephant Day by recognising the pivotal contribution that mahouts and their families make in the welfare of these giant mammals, an official said on Thursday.
"On the occasion of World Elephant Day, Bengaluru Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBBP or Bengaluru Zoo) acknowledges the contribution of mahouts and their families in the welfare of elephants," said Executive Director Vanashree Vipin Singh.
On the special day on Wednesday, elephant calves in the zoo were given feeding tasks or enrichment, aimed at enhancing their foraging abilities and sharpening their animal instincts.
More than being a task, those activities were actually food treats. Enrichment included two fire hose balls filled with grass and other treats like carrots, sweet potatoes, bananas, watermelons, sugarcane and jaggery.
"A fire hose was tied with multiple food items and tied to a tree to encourage the animal to use its trunk to grab the food from a height. Also, a pipe filled with treats were placed in the enclosure for the animal to use its trunk to pull out the food from inside," said Singh.
Spoilt with food, the elephant calves had a ball, with one of the older ones, Airavata, ran away with a fire hose ball to feast on the treats inside it.
Another calf, Suresh, spent some time retrieving the food from the pipe while Rita and Gowri, other calves, were spotted foraging food hung using the fire hose and another ball.
Aimed at creating awareness, the zoo displayed posters and set up a touch table with elephant dung to explain the role it plays in maintaining ecosystem equilibrium.
Similarly, to sensitise children towards wildlife conservation and elephants in specific, a drawing and elocution competition was organised online and on social media.
Entries to the competition can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
BP Ravi, member secretary of Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK), Mysuru, has released a video on the occasion about the preparation of nutritious raagi balls (raagi mudde) for elephants.
With the birth of a male calf on August 1, the elephant count in the Bengaluru Zoo rose to 24.
Bengaluru Bannerghatta biological park has four units - a zoo, safari, butterfly park and a rescue centre sprawling over 732 hectares of land and accommodates 2,281 animals. The zoo is nestled in the forests of Champakadhama Hills inside the Bannerghatta National Park.
Meanwhile, in Hyderabad, 82-year-old Rani was the centre of attraction at the Nehru Zoological Park here.
Zoo authorities treated all five of their elephants to a scrumptious buffet, including a cake made of ragi and rice decorated with fruits, vegetables, sprouts and corn.
The animal keepers and in-charge of the elephants also laid out for the pachyderms treats like sugar cane, pineapple, jaggery, coconut and green grass.
It was a special occasion for the five elephants - one male and four females. Zoo authorities inscribed names of the elephants on cakes specially made for the occasion.
Nehru Zoological Park Curator N Kshitija said all elephants were in good health. She said the day was celebrated with an objective to create awareness and educate people.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get involved in supporting these majestic animals and protecting them for future generations," she said.
Rani, the senior-most elephant, was the centre of attraction at the celebrations. While three elephants are aged 50, the fourth one is 34, and Rani is 82 years old.
Born on October 7, 1938, Rani was gifted to the zoo by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.
This elephant grabbed the attention of the visitors ever since the zoo was opened in 1963. The giant tusker created a record by surviving more than the usual lifespan of 50-60 years.
According to the zoological park officials, the daily feed of each elephant includes 250 kg of grass, sugar cane, jaggery, boiled rice, ghee, groundnut oil and 250 litres of water.
The services of NZP elephants are also used every year for religious processions like Bonalu and Muharram in Hyderabad.
Last month, Tollywood actor Ram Charan's wife and superstar K Chiranjeevi's daughter-in-law, Upasana Kamineni Konidela came forward to adopt Rani for a period of one year. She had presented a cheque of INR 5 lakh to the zoological park's curator.
The Zoo, which has suffered a loss of over INR 5 crore due to the ban on entry of visitors since March 22, is looking for celebrities and businessmen to come forward and adopt the animals, by sponsoring their expenses for a fixed period.
Spread over 300 acres, the zoo is home to nearly 181 indigenous and exotic species, including 1,716 animals, birds, and reptiles.
Known as one of the best zoos in Asia, it attracts around 30 lakh visitors annually.