Animal Rescue Centre to be converted into a safari for lions and tigers

Brand Vizag will get a big boost as a tourist attraction as the Central Zoo Authority has approved the layout to convert the Animal Rescue Centre located opposite the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park into a safari for lions and tigers.

The facilities have been created to make it suitable for a safari once the lions and tigers housed in ARC die a natural death.

The ARC developed in 30 hectares in Kambalakonda Reserve Forest to house 30 lions and an equal number of tigers during 2001, will become a safari once the inmates rescued from circuses on a directive of the Supreme Court die a natural death.

The ARC was designed to give a decent retirement life for the wildcats after they were subjected to cruelty by circus companies. When they were brought, they were traumatised and bruised due to torture and cruelty meted out to them.

The number has dwindled over the years. For instance, the number of 48 lions and 13 tigers in 2007 has come down to 19 lions and 11 tigers.

“Funding for the safari is no constraint. We will get tigers and lions under exchange programmes for display during the safari. We are ready to sanction funds up to Rs.1 crore as we are determined to make Visakhapatnam zoo a destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force B.S.S. Reddy told The Hindu during a recent visit to the city.

The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, located amid the scenic Eastern Ghats and surrounded by hills on three sides and the Bay of Bengal on the eastern side, is spread over 625 acres.

It was set up in 1972 and opened to public in 1977 and has at present 80 species numbering 800. It has animals and birds including recently acquired rhino and a pair of giraffes in 63 enclosures and large open moats and aviaries surrounded by reserve forests giving the animals a life close to their natural habitat.

Visitors up

The zoo received 5.67 lakh visitors in 2010-11, which went up to 7.05 lakh in 2011-12 and 7.80 lakh in 2012-13. A cheetah couple will be brought from Czech Republic next month.

“As the zoo has one of the finest locations in the country with such a huge area in natural surroundings, we will be bringing more animals like fishing cat, pygmy hippopotamus, thamin deer, leopard cat and black bear to make it more attractive,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) A.V. Joseph.

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