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Elephant goes berserk, zoo shut

india Updated: Aug 30, 2006 01:27 IST
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AN ELEPHANT at Kamla Nehru Zoo, which went berserk this morning and threw off its Mahout injuring him severely, broke open the shed where he was locked at about 7.30 pm and started wandering around its open paddock, trumpeting loudly.

The elephant, Moti, had to be given three tranquiliser shots to calm him down, but he seemed unaffected and went about eating grass.

After Moti broke the shed, the zoo authorities called in Forest Department officials for help. The district administration and police also came in for support.

The first two tranquiliser shots were fired from the top of the shed, which Moti had broken. Later, the shooter climbed down and fired at Moti from a hole in the boundary wall. All the three tranquiliser could be seen embedded in Moti’s body.
District administration officials including Collector Vivek Aggrawal, IMC Commissioner Vinod Sharma, Additional SPs Rajesh Hingankar and Dharmendra Chaudhary and Forest Department officials stood atop the shed to monitor Moti’s condition.

Collector Vivek Aggrawal said that 12 cc of tranquilising drug had been injected into Moti, and his movements had become sluggish. A mahout was trying his best to take Moti back into his cage, but it was refusing to budge.

Earlier in the morning, Moti threw of his mahout Instiaq Mohammed, minutes after a team of the Central Zoo Authority had received ‘salami’ from the pachyderm.

Mahout Ishtiaq Mohammed, whose large intestine was pulled out as Moti hit him on the iron grill in front of the enclosure, was immediately taken to the MY Hospital and operated upon. The zoo was immediately closed down for public and even the staff did not dare to go near the elephant.

The elephant has been with the zoo for more than 25 years and every morning its chains are opened to take it around for a walk within the premises. Today was no exception, and even when the Central Zoo Authority team came, Moti was his usual self. The Central Zoo Authority team had come to inspect the conditions at the zoo and to verify if the allotted funds were being properly utilised.

“A few minutes after the team moved ahead to inspect other cages, Moti hit the mahout from behind, curled him up in his trunk and banged him on the grill. Then, the mahout was thrust on the ground after which the elephant retreated to its enclosure,” said zoo in-charge Ramakant Shukla.

Ishtiaq (37) has been handling Moti since 1978. Ishtiaq’s family has been with the zoo since a long time and this is their seventh generation earning a livelihood by managing elephants.

Jaiprakash Chauhan, who cleans the cages at the zoo, said, “Moti was taken for a ride like everyday and then brought back to its place. The officials were to come for which he was readied to demonstrate salaam etc.”

“But just after the team went ahead, Moti hit Ishtiaqbhai, injuring him seriously,” Chauhan said adding, “We all were afraid to go near Moti and could lift Ishtiaqbhai only when the elephant retreated a little.”

The mahout was then immediately taken to MY Hospital where he was operated upon for nearly four hours. He has since been recovering well, and the hospital authorities said that he was out of danger. IMC Commissioner Vinod Sharma, who visited the hospital, assured all help from the administration.

MY Hospital Superintendent D K Jain told Sharma that there was no damage to Ishtiaq’s kidney or liver. Only the large intestine had been pulled out.

Meanwhile, at the zoo, Moti was left alone and the staff too did not venture around him. Immediately after the incident, the zoo was closed for public. The zoo’s in-house veterinarian said they could not even use tranquiliser, as the animal has to be tied when the darts are shot at it.

“A team from the Forest Department came to review the situation. Also, a special team from Kanha Kisli is on its way, which would reach here tomorrow,” Shukla said.