THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: If the state government clears the proposal for an animal exchange programme between the city zoo and Yalta zoo in Russia, three mahouts at the elephant rehabilitation centre at Kottur will have to keep their passports ready.
As per the proposal, the city zoo plans to get white lion, llama, Siberian tiger and ring-tailed coati in exchange for three elephants.
The forest department is learnt to have sanctioned the exchange of three elephant calves from Kottur for the proposal. As per global norms for transporting elephants, handlers familiar with individual jumbos should travel with the animal to the receiving institution. The zoo authorities are expecting a final nod from the state government on the proposal before they can zero in on the calves and their handlers.
At present there are around 15 mahouts at Kottur and the mahouts to be chosen for the trip to Russia will be decided only once the choice of calves is finalized. "Elephants develop a close bond with the person who takes care of them since their birth and those who tend to them regularly. It is recommended that the elephants be accompanied by their handlers so they can help the animals get acclimatized to the new place," said Dr Jacob Alexander, zoo vet.
The handlers will have to carry along a heavy baggage as well. Rules stipulate that a two week supply of hay and grain should be sent with the elephant so that a gradual transition to the new diet is possible. "The proposal is yet to be cleared. Once clearance is assured, norms for transportation of elephants would be complied with," chief wildlife warden G Harikumar said. The transport by air would be the next challenge. So far, the city zoo had had only one black jaguar flown in from Australia that too, two decades ago. The transportion is expected to be taken care of by the Russian zoo authorities.
In 2013, a Russian cargo jet was used to fly three elephants to their retirement centre from Toronto zoo. Elephants are usually flown awake and are not tranquilized so that they are fully conscious and are able to shift their weight and behave normally during the flight. In 2012, nine African elephants aged between 4 and 9 years were flown from Namibia to Mexico on a Boeing 777 freighter which has the capacity to carry 104 tonnes. Before the flight, they have to be trained to handle noise.
Full Story here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/When-Kottur-elephant-handlers-get-to-fly-to-Russia/articleshow/47596433.cms