Come May, royal cats to roar in Renuka Ji Mini Zoo

Come May, the mighty roar of Royal Bengal Tigers will resound at the Renukaji Mini Zoo in Sirmaur, and if all goes according to plan they will soon be joined by sunning crocodiles, galloping antelopes (Chinkaras), and slithering snakes.

Headed by additional principal chief conservator of wildlife Rajeev Kumar, a team of wildlife officials visited the Renukaji Wildlife Sanctuary on Tuesday to explore the possibility of introducing new animals. The team also selected land to build enclosures for the new arrivals, and other aspects of the zoo upgrade.

Kumar said that a a detailed master plan was being prepared to upgrade and improve the MIni Zoo. “We are planning to introduce new species to the zoo. The proposal will be sent to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for approval.”

The zoo has already got the CZAs nod to bring in a the pair of tigers. They will be brought in May. “Tenders will soon be awarded to build their enclosure,” he said.

Lantana, euphonium grass to be removed

The officials directed the zoo authorities to remove lantana and euphonium grass, which had spread across the zoo premises. Both these weeds are harming the vegetation and the environment, besides having an adverse effect on the animals.

The Renuka Safari, widely believed to be the first zoo in Himachal Pradesh, was set up in 1957. Initially, it housed animals that had been caged after they strayed into human habitations. Later, it became home to many endangered species.

To accommodate the burgeoning population of hog dear, barking dear, chinkara, blackbuck and other animals an open park was set up at Renukaji in 1983.

Animals like blackbuck and Nilgai (blue bull) were also given to the Piplee Zoo in Uttar Pradesh.

Home to the Asiatic Lion

In 1975, a pair of Asiatic lions was brought to the Renuka Zoo from Junagarh in Uttar Pradesh. The first lion was named Raja, while the lioness was christened Rani. Soon, the zoo boasted of a thriving population of the endangered cats, with the zoo housing as many as 40 at one time. However, of late, their population has been declining due to inbreeding.