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Anacondas are coming, this time for real

Special Correspondent
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Waiting for giant guests:The reptile house at the city zoo.–Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar
Waiting for giant guests:The reptile house at the city zoo.–Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

Six anacondas are slithering their way into the capital city. And unlike the four earlier ‘reel’ versions, this time, all the six are real.

Barring any last minute snafus, the Thiruvananthapuram zoo will be the proud owner of the six anacondas within a few months.

The six reptiles — one of them will be male — are scheduled to be brought over from the Dehiwala Zoo in Sri Lanka.

Last week, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) gave its nod to the zoo’s proposal to bring over the anacondas. There is a catch though; the zoo must now scramble to get the clearance for this proposal from the Directorate of Foreign Trade and from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) within six months. “The CZA’s sanction will expire in six months. We must get the snakes over before that,” the zoo vet Jacob Alexander told The Hindu .

Though the anacondas will be housed in the zoo’s reptile house, they will initially be placed in quarantine—a legal requirement. According to Dr. Alexander, the quarantine can last anywhere between three weeks to six months. During this time, the anacondas will not be put on display. Later, they will be shifted to the enclosure which now houses the Indian Rock Python.

Given the sizes to which anacondas grow, the zoo will have to find a much larger enclosure for them in two to three years. Plans are already afoot to put in place such an enclosure. “Anacondas have this reputation for being man-hunting, vengeful creatures. One easily associates the behaviour of these snakes with what is shown in the movie series ‘Anaconda.’ One reason why we wish to bring over these snakes is to dispel myths about their behaviour patterns,” the zoo vet explained.

The zoo has many other animals on its wish list, most notably the white tiger. It has also written to the CZA asking for the Nilgai, barking deer, rhesus monkey, painted stork, white ibis, and the red jungle fowl.

The zoo’s efforts at bringing over giraffe and zebra have been stymied by the fact that there are no zoos in the country that have these animals in surplus. This also appears to be the problem with zoos in South Africa. Even if the zoo is able to find a counterpart in some country willing to part with giraffe and zebra, bringing these animals over – particularly the giraffe – will be a challenging and expensive proposition.

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