In the dead of the night as the city slept, two trucks trundled into its final destination, the Thiruvananthapuram zoo, on Thursday, after traversing nearly the entire stretch of the country from New Delhi. Despite concerns regarding the ‘excitable’ and fearful nature of the special cargo onboard, the five Nilgai, three barking deer, and two albino blackbuck survived the heat of the summer and duration of the cross-country trip.

The two trucks had set out from here earlier this month with a pair of ostrich, bonnet macaques, black swan, golden pheasant, brahminy kites and brown fish owls – holding up the city’s end of the bargain as part of an exchange programme with the New Delhi zoological park.

Five painted stork, five white ibis and two pairs of red jungle fowl are among the bird species set to arrive here along with the deer.

Zoo veterinarian Jacob Alexander said cranes had been booked for Friday morning to heave the crates from the trucks to the enclosures the animals are set to move into.

Hectic preparations

It was a mad scramble to clean up the pens and make minor alterations to the enclosures all through the day, when staffers learnt that the vehicles had reached Thrissur on Thursday morning.

Some sources say that they did not expect the convoy back quite so soon considering the party left New Delhi only on the night of April 11. (In 1995, when a similar exchange programme was forged, it took the party over 10 days.) The vehicles had to be parked in the shade throughout the day and were to maintain a very slow speed so as not to upset the creatures. Superintendent Sadashivan Pillai is the accompanying zoo official. The terms of this alliance also involves airlifting the white tiger from Delhi. The date is yet to be fixed. Once this animal reaches here, a male jaguar will be flown over to Delhi.

Gaur birth and transfer

It has been a busy few weeks at the city zoo, with the long overdue arrival of the seven anacondas gifted by the Dehiwala Zoo in Sri Lanka.

To return this gesture, officials here are considering offering a pair of Indian gaurs – a species that has virtually vanished from the island.

The zoo can afford to hand over a pair with the birth of an Indian gaur just last week.