The Nandankanan Zoological Park in Odisha, India may be getting two breeding pairs of lions and four zebras, not from Africa but from Israel.
The animals will be flown over to Mumbai by none other than the Zoological Center in Ramat Gan, as soon as the Indian zoo gets all its ducks in a row.
While the Odisha state government has given its blessing to the animal transfer, according to the Times, other issues remain outstanding, including the requisite permits from other authorities such as the ministry of environment and forests. Also, the Nandankanan zoo itself has to rebuild its lion and zebra paddocks to accommodate the newcomers.
The Nandankanan park has just one zebra. It does have two Asiatic and six hybrid lions already. But animal transfers among zoos are common practice in order to broaden the gene pool and prevent inbreeding.
Assuming the regulators smile upon the idea and all works out with Nandankanan too, from the Mumbai international airport, the animals will be trucked to the zoo, which is precisely the other side of India – a distance of 1,700 kilometers.
One might wonder why the animals couldn’t be flown to the much nearer airports of Bhubaneshwar or Kolkata. Sagit Horowitz, spokeswoman of the Safari, explains that first of all, there are no flights from Israel to Kolkata and also, from the perspective of the animals’ comfort, it doesn’t much matter.
“They’ll be stopping for breaks at zoos, for rest and refreshment,” she says. Moreover, throughout that long road trip, the animals would be accompanied by a veterinarian and a representative of the Safari.
The Indian zoo will be covering the heavy cost of transporting the animals.
The Safari isn’t expecting to get any animals in return from Nandankanan, but does anticipate that this will be the start of a beautiful collaborative friendship.
Meanwhile, how did this come about? “Some months ago the Safari gave four zebras to an Indian zoo,” explains Horowitz. That spurred a spate of interest from a number of Indian zoos.