Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has written to her Assam counterpart seeking a pair of greater one-horned rhinoceros for the zoo in Vandalur near Chennai. She also offered a pair of Indian gaur in exchange.

Ms. Jayalalithaa, who is also Chairperson of the Zoo Authority of Tamil Nadu, in her letter on Tuesday to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, said the greater one-horned rhinoceros was part of the collection at Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur from 1985 to 1989.

“The animal died in 1989 and after that there has been no representative of this magnificent animal in our zoo,” she added.

Noting that the zoo was the largest in the country and one of the largest in South-East Asia, the Chief Minister said its collection was made up of 1,400 individual animals consisting of 143 species. Considering the number of visitors to the zoo –– over two million annually –– and the popularity of the Indian rhinoceros, it would be very fitting if Vandalur Zoo could once again have these animals.

The zoo was categorised as a “large zoo” based on species diversity, number of endangered species and area. It is known for following modern captive animal management principles in its day-to-day administration, she said. “We have sufficient numbers of Indian gaur, which we can give in exchange to the Government of Assam. The Indian gaur is one of our flagship species,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said in the letter.