Visakhapatnam

‘Sacred’ gift from Germany

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Six sacred baboons set to enthral visitors to zoo

Giving a boost to the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, which suffered extensive damage due to cyclone Hudhud two months ago, six sacred baboons (Hamadryas baboons) from Germany are all set to enthral visitors to the zoo.

The animals, one male and two female, are at present not let out for the public and are being released only during the early hours of the day for acclimatisation.

“A total of 20 sacred baboons were brought from Germany’s Leipzig Zoo. The animals were gifted to us by Prof. Jorg Junhold and Dr. Romina Hersch of Leipzig Zoo. Out of the 20, 14 have been sent to the Tirupati zoo,” Vizag zoo curator G. Ramalingam told The Hindu.

The Hamadryas baboon was a sacred animal for the ancient Egyptians and appears in different roles in ancient Egyptian religion. It was, hence, given the name of ‘sacred baboon’. Rarely seen in zoos in India, these baboons have a size difference between the sexes with the males often twice as large as females.

“On arrival from Germany, the animals were kept under a month-long quarantine in Hyderabad. Currently, the animals are under a controlled diet and a close watch. We will be releasing them for public view in a few days time. In addition to this, we will also be getting zebras next month,” Mr. Ramalingam said.

The Hamadryas baboon lives in semi-desert areas, savannas, and rocky areas, and their range extends from the Red Sea in Eritrea to Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia, and in south-western Arabia.

According to zoo officials, the animal feeds on a wide variety of foods, which include blossoms, seed, wild roots and grass, leaves, insects, reptiles, and small mammals.

The zoo is still coping with the massive destruction caused due to the cyclone with many enclosures like the aviary section of migratory birds yet to be restored.

“We were badly hit during the peak season of Karthik when the number of visitors dropped drastically. The turnout is still low, but we are seeing marginal improvement,” the curator said.

According to latest figures, the zoo recorded 800 visitors during the weekends, reporting nearly 50 per cent drop from the figures of normal peak season.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:30:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/sacred-gift-from-germany/article6690970.ece

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