Eighty two-year-old Rani was the centre of attraction on World Elephant Day at the Nehru Zoological Park here on Wednesday. The day was celebrated with zoo authorities treating all five elephants to a scrumptious buffet, including a cake made of ragi and rice decorated with fruits, vegetables, sprouts and corn.
The animal keepers and incharge of the elephants also laid out for the pachyderms treats like sugar cane, pineapple, jaggery, coconut and green grass.
It was a special occasion for the five elephants – one male and four females. Zoo authorities inscribed names of the elephants on cakes specially made for the occasion.
Nehru Zoological Park Curator N. Kshitija said all elephants were in good health. She said the day was celebrated with an objective to create awareness and educate people. “We want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get involved in supporting these majestic animals and protecting them for future generations,” she said.
Rani, the senior most elephant, was the centre of attraction at the celebrations. While three elephants are aged 50, the fourth one is 34, and Rani is 82 years old.
Born on October 7, 1938, Rani was gifted to the Zoo by Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.
This elephant grabbed the attention of the visitors ever since the Zoo was opened in 1963. The giant tusker created a record by surviving more than the usual lifespan of 50-60 years.
According to the zoological park officials, the daily feed of each elephant includes 250 kg of grass, sugar cane, jaggery, boiled rice, ghee, groundnut oil and 250 litres of water.
The services of NZP elephants are also used every year for religious processions like Bonalu and Muharram in Hyderabad.
Last month, Tollywood actor Ram Charan’s wife and superstar K. Chiranjeevi’s daughter-in-law, Upasana Kamineni Konidela came forward to adopt Rani for a period of one year. She had presented a cheque of Rs. 5 lakh to the zoological park’s curator.
The Zoo, which has suffered a loss of over Rs. 5 crore due to the ban on entry of visitors since March 22, is looking for celebrities and businessmen to come forward and adopt the animals, by sponsoring their expenses for a fixed period.
Spread over 300 acres, the Zoo is home to nearly 181 indigenous and exotic species, including 1,716 animals, birds, and reptiles.
Known as one of the best zoos in Asia, it attracts around 30 lakh visitors annually.