Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Zurich zoo 'recreates' its own Gir landscape for Asiatic Lion enclosure and pays respectable tribute to Ex-DFO Late Shri P P Raval


Zurich zoo ‘recreates’ its own Gir landscape

Times of India By: Himanshu Kaushik


Ahmedabad: A lion playfully rolls on the ground beside an anthill and suddenly sits up to sniff a prey lurking nearby. It tracks the smell and finds a dead deer hanging from a tree. The audience watch enraptured. In the midst of the Swiss Alps, this is a model Gir landscape recreated in Zurich Zoo in Switzerland for the Asiatic lion.

The enclosure, spread on two hectares of land, gives a comparative picture of the condition that the African and Asiatic lions live in. The enclosure has sand, pebbles, rocks, foliage and lying space for the beast at different heights and for different weather conditions.

The enclosure also introduces stimuli-like smell of prey, plants and typical jungle herbs to give the lion a feel of home.

Besides, there is a complex feeding system to challenge the lions in their hunt for prey. The website describes how there is “feed placed in boxes to be accessed at certain times as well as feed strung from trees. Hidden feed portions as well as alternating large and small rations are all part of this system.”

The zoo has reconstructed a Gir Interpretation Zone and gives special credit to late PP Raval, who was superintendent of Junagadh’s Sakkarbaugh Zoo.

The exhibition, ‘Man and Lion — A relationship between Fear and Admiration’, illustrates the relationship between lions and human beings, the veneration of the lion, contempt for it and the threat of its extinction.

The new enclosure in Zurich Zoo would serve as a home for three lions, the first of which is Bhagirath, born in 1989 in Sakkarbaugh Zoo and was shifted to Zurich in 1991. Two other lions — Aipani and Joy — will join Bhagirath. Aipani belongs to Helsinki and Joy is from Frankfurt.

Additional principal chief conservator of forest, Pradeep Khanna, who attended the inauguration of the enclosure in March this year, said, “Raval was instrumental in sending Bhagirath to Zurich and hence, the zoo has recognised his contribution”.


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