Pandas set free

  • 14/06/2003

The Darjeeling Zoo plans to release two female red pandas into the Singhalila National Park, which is located in West Bengal, in an attempt to increase the numbers of this endangered animal. Two female pandas were chosen instead of a pair to avoid in-breeding and to introduce new blood among the park's 75 existing pandas. If the experiment proves successful, the zoo will liberate more pandas.

The zoo has carefully constructed the territory in Singhalila park in which the pandas will initially reside. The facility has cost about Rs 13 lakh to construct and will be hidden from public view. Zoo officials do not expect any threats to the pandas either from poachers or from predators such as leopards.

Darjeeling Zoo, the country's largest host of red pandas (21 animals), views this effort as an attempt to reinvent itself from a "centre of recreation to a centre of conservation'. The zoo has planned two other similar projects: with the lion-tailed macaques and the pygmy hog.

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