Rajkumar’s move from city zoo to Kottur will deprive Maheshwari of company
Maheshwari ambles around the elephant enclosure at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo while her mate, 34-year-old Rajkumar stands forlorn in a corner. Both seem unsure of how they would tackle being alone again after a gap of nearly six years.
It was in 2007 that Rajkumar underwent an arduous journey, one that saw him coping with a 2,000-km journey in an enclosed truck from Mumbai to Thiruvananthapuram, to be part of the zoo here as its sole male elephant. He was probably relieved coming to the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, after an unhappy stint at the V.J.B. Zoo at Bycula, Mumbai. Octogenarian Maheshwari, the zoo’s ‘resident female’ elephant, was happy too, to get a company after long.
Now, they face the threat of separation again, with the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo preparing for the throes of another habitat shift for Rajkumar.
As per a 2009 diktat from the Central Zoo Authority that zoos cannot keep elephants and that they should be shifted to national parks, the Forest Department has alerted the zoo officials here that they will be shifting Rajkumar to the elephant rehabilitation centre of the department at Kottur, about 70 km from here.
A vehicle, used for transportation of pachyderms and owned by the Guruvayur Devaswom, reached the zoo here on Sunday. But the presence of a large weekend crowd on the premises is said to have given the authorities second thoughts. The shifting process, as of now, has been postponed to later this week.
Though the lorry went back without Rajkumar, albeit to return later this week, the zoo staff are upset.
“He is safe and happy here. And if he is taken away, that means the zoo family is getting further depleted. Already, the enclosures for giraffes, hyena, and chimpanzee and others are lying empty. If this continues, one day, we will have only the deer and hippos here,” is what one of the staff had to say. Though elephants are an almost daily sight outside, those in the zoo still have plenty of fans among the visitors, they say.
Zoo officials say they have no option but to comply with the orders of the CZA. There are no orders to shift Maheshwari so far, they say.