A year after the central zoo authority had asked all 26 zoos in the country to relocate their elephants to national parks or sanctuaries, the two female elephants at Byculla zoo are still waiting for a new home.
Following the circular, teams from Solapur and Chhattisgarh forest reserves had visited the Byculla zoo but rejected Laxmi, 53, and Anarkali, 46, because they are too old to patrol the jungles.
The situation is similar across most zoos in the country. Only 10 elephants have been shifted from six of the 26 zoos in the country.
Officials from the central zoo authority confirmed that compliance of this directive has been low and several zoos have written to them asking them to exempt their pachyderms from being relocated.
The administration of the Byculla zoo too had written to the authority asking to exempt Laxmi and Anarkali because they are old and will neither be able to adapt to the new surroundings in the wild nor fend for themselves.
“A team will visit these zoos and inspect whether an exception can be made for those elephants,” said a senior member of the central zoo authority, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media. Laxmi and Anarkali have been living in captivity for more than 35 years. As per rules, the retirement age of an elephant is 60 years.
“We are waiting for the committee to visit us so that we can explain to them why we could not shift the two elephants,” said Anil Anjankar, director of the Byculla zoo.