Ramsingh Munda and his daughter Gulki were reunited with their pet sloth bear Rani after a gap of ten days at the Nandankanan zoo on Friday. But the joyous reunion was short-lived as the duo, after spending nearly 30 minutes with Rani in the zoo enclosure, had to bid her goodbye with tears welling up in their eyes.
The bear too, followed Munda, but her passage to freedom was blocked by zoo officials, who had no option but to follow the rules. Rani groaned, but it fell on deaf ears.
After emerging out of Rani’s enclosure, Munda volunteered to serve in the zoo so that he would look after Rani and other animals. But he was curtly told that the law does not permit it. SN Mahapatra, deputy director of Nandankanan Zoo said, “We have legal restrictions to provide a job to Ramsingh in the zoo. We cannot employ him as of now. The higher authorities can decide on that”.
An emotional Munda after meeting Rani said, “It was like meeting my own daughter. I was very sad to see Rani caged. She was very happy with me. I observed that she was not even taking proper food”.
Jeevan Das, secretary of the Orissa chapter of the People for Animals who facilitated the meeting between Munda and Rani said, “Munda should be employed in the zoo. All the cases filed against him should be withdrawn. I thank the HT for highlighting the issue”.
On June 17, Munda was arrested by officials of the forest department for keeping a bear at home in violation of the wildlife laws. Though the bear escaped when Munda was nabbed, it was subsequently captured and brought to Nanankanan zoo. Munda got bail and was released from jail on June 23.
Munda is a resident of Rutisila village under Ghatagaon block of Keonjhar district, nearly 150-km away from the state capital.
The 18-month-old sloth bear was an integral part of Munda’s family.