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| Last Updated:: 05/08/2019

Three decades on, Vandalur zoo gets rhino pair from Hyd



Thirty years after its last rhinoceros died, the Vandalur zoo will have a pair now.



The male rhinoceros arrived on Saturday and the female is expected on Wednesday. The animals will be on public display sometime next week.



Both animals are from the Hyderabad zoo, which will get a pair of hippopotamuses and two pairs of lion-tailed macaques from Vandalur in exchange.



It took two days for the Vandalur zoo managers to drive the four-year-old rhinoceros from Hyderabad to Chennai in a truck. The animals being sent to Hyderabad from Vandalur too will be transported by road.



The female rhinoceros is also being brought in a truck from Hyderabad, a Vandalur zoo official said.



Soon after male rhino arrived from the Telangana capital, it was kept in quarantine in a separate enclosure.



Zoo officials said the rhinoceros was stressed by the travel in a truck, which took more than 48 hours.



Veterinarians were also examining the animal to determine the state of its health.



The handlers were also getting to know the rhinoceros and only after the animal was comfortable in the new environment would it be released into the enclosure where the public could view it. The walls of the enclosure were also being raised as a matter of safety, zoo officials said.



Vandalur zoo’s last rhinoceros was brought from Assam in 1985, but the animal fell ill and died four years later. Since 1989, the zoo hasn’t had a rhino.



Officials now are hoping that the current pair will flourish; rhinos live for 35-45 years but are notoriously poor breeders with a gestation period of 16 months. The male rhinoceros can start breeding at 9 years and the females reach maturity by 5 years.



Six years ago, when former chief minister J Jayalalithaa visited the zoo, she had promised to get a rhinoceros from Assam.



Jayalalithaa wrote to her counterpart in Assam, but her request was turned down on the ground that the northeastern state had no rhinos to spare.



The Indian rhinoceros is found in the wild only in Assam and Nepal, where they number around 3,000.



The horns of the rhinoceros are in great demand for use in Chinese medicine and the animals were almost hunted to extinction — there were fewer than 600 in the wild in 1975 — before conservation efforts paid off.



When chief minister Edappadi S Palaniswami visited the zoo last year, he had said steps will be taken to get a rhinoceros from another zoo through the animal exchange programme.



Originally, it was proposed to get a rhinoceros from Patna. Later it was decided to approach the Hyderabad zoo for a pair.





Source: The Times of India, 05 August 2019, Chennai.