Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The death of a male Nilgiri Tahr at the city zoo on Wednesday has once again focused attention on the increasing number of geriatric inmates and on animals that have been without mates for a long time now.

The tahr, an endemic and highly endangered species, was without a mate from the time it was brought to the zoo in the early nineties. Though it is the mandate of the Central Zoo Authority that zoo's stock and display endemic and endangered species and even try and create a gene bank of these animals, the zoo is yet to take any initiative to bring over tahrs.

The two male Capuchin monkeys have been without mates for some time now. Moreover, the two monkeys are very old. According to a zoo official there is no plan as of now to bring over more of these primates.

Similarly the octogenarian female elephant has been single for many years now. Though for the past five years zoo officials have been speaking of bringing a male elephant or even a pair it is only now that the zoo has identified a male elephant to be brought from Mumbai. Similarly though the zoo has two giraffes, the female is too old to mate and it has had problems adjusting with the male that was brought here last year.

The zoo's efforts to get a female rhino and a male zebra too have met with little success. Ever since one of the two male rhinos at the zoo, Ramu, gored to death the lone female Rita last year, the zoo has been frantically trying to get rid of the violent Ramu and to get a mate for the other, gentler, male Jadu.

The four lionesses at the zoo seem to be luckier. The zoo is expected to shortly get a male lion from the safari park near Neyyar dam. This move, hopefully, will kick-start the zoo's lion breeding programme.

Many of the birds displayed at the city zoo too are nearing the end of their natural life span, zoo officials say.