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Single no more: Mumbai male rhino finds a mate in Delhi (Aug)

The Indian Express, New Delhi, 14th August, 2013

After being celibate all his life, popular Byculla zoo's sole male rhino has now found a mate. The only male rhino in the city's zoo, 35-year old Shiva, will now be moved to the Delhi zoo after the Brihanmumbai Municipal

Corporation (BMC) managed to locate a mate in the national capital.Typically, the average life expectancy of a rhino in captivity is around 40 years.

"Shiva has been lonely for a long time. The major concern is that breeding between mates in rhinos takes time as they need six months to a year to get compatible with each other," said Dr Sanjay A Tripathi, who has been taking care of Shiva for years. "Although he spent the major part of his life alone, at least he will now have company," he said.

According to officials, at least two-dozen attempts have been made so far to find Shiva a mate in various zoos in India and abroad over the past few years, but without much success. Shiva, who was brought from Assam to the popular Veer Jeejamata Udyan in Byculla in 1985, will be shifted to Delhi on Wednesday.

The BMC had approached zoos in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Bengal and even Berlin in Germany. In 2005, the zoo authorities had planned to shift the rhino to the Ranchi zoo after a Bombay High Court directive.

However, following protests by Shiv Sena to not transfer the only rhino in the zoo, authorities had decided against it. Three years later, in 2008, another attempt was made to bring a female rhino from the Patna zoo, but the authorities later refused citing the Byculla zoo's poor track record of animal conservation programmes and lack of space for two rhinos.

Meanwhile, while Shiva has now found a mate and is being shifted to the Delhi zoo, the Byculla zoo is unlikely to see a new rhino as the Rs 150-crore zoo revamp plan to acquire new animals does not include a rhino.

Other animals likely to be sent away and not included in the new plan include a 35-year-old Himalayan black bear, Jamuna, whose mate Mangal died three years back. Those without a mate also include pachyderms Laxmi and Anarkali.

"The recognition of zoo rules, mandated by the Central Zoo Authority, do not permit the BMC to keep any animal which is without a mate. The new list to acquire animals does not include rhino, elephants or the Himalayan bear," said M Anjankar, director (Byculla zoo).