Darjeeling, July 16, 2017: Steeped in unrest, political strife and violence, there is finally good tidings in the Queen of the Hills. Amidst the ongoing indefinite bandh, two red pandas were born in captivity along with the hatching of two pheasants in the Darjeeling zoo.
"The two red pandas were born at the Off Display Breeding Center at Tobgay Danra in Darjeeling while the pheasants were hatched at the pheasant breeding centre at Dowhill in Kurseong. Sex determination of the red pandas will be done after three months. The two week old cubs and birds are in good health" stated Pyar Chand, Director, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (Pnhzp,) popular as the Darjeeling zoo.
The Pnhzp is the coordinating zoo for the red panda breeding programme (Project Red Panda) in India. The project was initiated in 1990. The zoo houses 15 red pandas at present.
Pnhzp is also the pioneer zoo in India to have initiated the captive breeding programme of snow leopards. In 1986 this programme had been initiated with 4 snow leopards. At present there are 11 snow leopards in the Darjeeling zoo.
The Off display breeding centre for rare and endangered Himalayan species, specially snow leopards and red pandas at Tobgay Danra on the way to Peshok around 20 km from Darjeeling town was founded in 2011.
The Pnhzp, founded in 1958 specializes in the captive breeding of endangered Himalayan species including snow leopard, red panda, tibetan wolf; blue sheep, Himalayan Tahr and Satyr tragopan (crimson horned pheasant.)
The Pheasant Breeding Centre and Satellite Zoo at Dow Hill, 4 km from Kurseong town is also under the Pnhzp. Founded in 2011, this breeding centre became the first pheasant breeding centre in Eastern Himalayan region. It specializes in the breeding of rare and endangered birds and herbivores.
The Pnhzp in Darjeeling houses 3 Royal Bengal Tigers, around 30 herbivores; over a hundred birds; leopards including the endangered snow leopards; Himalayan bear and Himalayan wolves. Everyday 80 kg meat; 100 kg grass; 40 kg dry grain and 20 kg of seasonal fruits and vegetables are required to feed the animals.
"Though we have sufficient stock of meat, the supplies of fruits and vegetable is fast depleting. We will approach the district administration and the agitators in case there is a shortage" added the Director.
An indefinite bandh was clamped in the Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong district since June 15 by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.