Mumbai: Byculla zoo awaits response on penguin-lion exchange proposal

Lions continue to remain a dream for the Mumbai Zoo, as the administration awaits a response from Kewadia Baug Zoo in Gujarat. Two months ago, the Byculla Zoo administration sent a proposal to Kewadia Baug Zoo, seeking two pairs of lions in exchange for penguins, but they are still waiting for a reply.

The Viramata Jijabai Bhosle Zoo is currently undergoing a modernisation project, and as part of this initiative, the administration has been attempting to acquire two pairs of lions for the past two years. Byculla Zoo had previously sent a proposal to Sakkar Baug Zoo in Gujarat and the Indore City Zoo.

For instance, Sakkar Baug Zoo expressed interest in receiving a pair of zebras. In response to their request, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) decided to procure zebras from Israel. However, the Central Animal Husbandry department declined to grant permission for this, citing, “We can`t procure animals from Israel,” according to a BMC official. The cost of procuring zebras from Ramat Gen Safari Park in Israel is estimated to be Rs 80 lakh. Failing to receive a response from the Central Animal Husbandry Department, the zoo administration has now forwarded a proposal to Kewadia Baug Zoo, suggesting an exchange of lions for penguins, as explained by an official.

“We have learned that they have plans to introduce penguins to their zoo. We sent them a proposal in August 2023, but we have not received a response from them. Keeping penguins and maintaining them is very risky and costly,” said another official, speculating that perhaps the other zoo lacks the necessary facilities.

Dr Sanjay Tripati, the superintendent of Byculla Zoo, confirmed that they had indeed sent a proposal. The last lioness, Jimmy, a 16-year-old African-Asiatic hybrid, passed away in 2014. Born to African lion Amar and Asiatic lioness Anita at the Byculla zoo on March 28, 1998, Jimmy`s demise marked the end of an era.

The BMC had allocated Rs 115 crore for the Byculla Zoo modernisation project, which aims to introduce exotic animal species such as the black jaguar, white lion, zebras, chimpanzees, as well as exotic birds like ostrich and emu cassowary. Due to the pandemic, the process of bringing lions to Mumbai was delayed, and the administration now awaits the necessary permissions for the exchange, as stated by the official.

No of years Byculla zoo is trying to acquire lions

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