Kumble does ‘jumbo’ service for Mysore zoo

Shankar Bennur

The cricketer has requested Narendra Modi to sanction a pair of Asiatic lions to Mysore zoo

‘It may take nearly two months to complete the formalities’

MYSORE: The former skipper of the Indian cricket team Anil Kumble, who is also vice-chairman of the Karnataka State Wildlife Board, has done a “jumbo” service for the Mysore zoo, which is one of the country’s key centres for conservation of endangered species.

Thanks to his efforts, the zoo has a fair chance of getting a pair of critically endangered Asiatic lions from Junagadh Zoo in Gujarat which is renowned for breeding Asiatic lions.

This development, according to zoo officials, has been possible only with the intervention of Mr. Kumble. The cricketer’s reported request to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to sanction a pair of lions appears to have borne fruit with Mr. Modi agreeing to do so. What has come as a surprise to the zoo authorities here is that the pair of lions may come as a “gift”. The office of member secretary, Zoo Authority of Karnataka, which is located here, has received a copy of the letter written by Mr. Kumble to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa about the development and need for subsequent correspondence with the authorities for getting the lions.

Confirming this to The Hindu, Mysore Zoo, Deputy Director, Belliappa said, “We have received the letter. The pair’s arrival here will be possible after the necessary paperwork is done from our side.” Mr. Kumble, who is known as the “gentle giant” of Indian cricket and also “Jumbo” in cricket circles, recently took part in the valedictory of the Mysore Zoo Youth Club 2009. During an interaction with him, the zoo management broached the need for a pair of Asiatic lions and he reportedly agreed to talk to the Gujarat Government.

The Mysore zoo will soon be writing to the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZA) about the development and seek its approvalfor bringing the pair. “It may take nearly two months to complete the formalities,” Mr. Belliappa said. Mr. Kumble’s love for wildlife was evident during his recent visit to the zoo. He adopted a giraffe calf called Lakshmi paying Rs. 25,000 for the cost of maintaining the animal for a year. The zoo here has also asked Mr. Kumble to request the Assam Chief Minister to sanction a pair of Indian rhinoceroses from the Kaziranga National Park.

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