Permanent engagement with Sri Lankan zoo on the anvil

The concept of a twin-city agreement is not unfamiliar here. Proposals were earlier put forth for an alliance with Barcelona, Spain.

Now, another twinning agreement is on the anvil. The groundwork has been done for a novel twin-zoo plan which envisions a permanent, fruitful engagement between the Thiruvananthapuram zoo and the Dehiwala zoo, near Colombo, in Sri Lanka.

Zoo and Museums Director B. Joseph and zoo veterinarian Jacob Alexander had visited Dehiwala over the past weekend and held discussions with their counterparts for a long-term tie-up. The immediate purpose of the visit was to finalise the transfer of anacondas, a deal delayed by paperwork. Since this was an international agreement, clearances had to obtained from the Directorate of Foreign Trade and from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, sources said.

As part of the transfer, a health report (of the anacondas) was needed. The Sri Lankan authorities had sought a week to obtain the results of medical tests carried out in a laboratory in Colombo. These tests, including one for salmonella, had to be carried as per stipulations laid down by the Central Zoo Authority, sources said.

Anacondas

Upon returning to the city here on Tuesday, officials started making arrangements with an agency to transport the anacondas from Sri Lanka to Chennai, by flight, and then, to Thiruvananthapuram. The anacondas are a gift from Dehiwala, a zoo with a long history, impressive collection of animals, and plenty of trained staff (they have five veterinary doctors on duty as against the one permanent vet with the city zoo). The twin-zoo proposal will soon be submitted to the State government for approval.

Animal exchanges apart, the alliance would prioritise zoo-keeper training programmes as well. Considering the similar environment and climatic conditions of the two regions, it makes sense for such a link between the zoos rather than following practices in European zoos, an official said.

The Zoo Department here was trying to obtain a white tiger by April. Animals including the nilgai, albino blackbuck, and several bird species were to arrive soon, sources said.