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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

Stray carnivore enters Vandalur zoo
By P.Oppili

CHENNAI, JAN. 23. Panic gripped the wildlife authorities and residents living near the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), Vandalur, following reports that a stray carnivore had entered the zoo premises on Tuesday evening.

Although the initial reports suggested it could be a lion, the AAZP Director, P.C.Tyagi told presspersons that ``after the combing operations, we have found that it could be a panther and not a lion''.

Mr Tyagi said that around 5-30 p.m. on Tuesday, a two-wheeler rider on Kelambakkam Road informed the authorities that he saw an animal entering the zoo premises.

Late this evening, the animal was traced close to the deer park, as there was some alarming calls from the deer park, the zoo authorities said. Since all the zoo workers were leaving the premises after duty at that time, women workers were immediately transported to safety.

Men were taken to the place where the animal was said to be sighted. After commencing the combing operation, they also informed the police about the entry of the carnivore, Mr Tyagi said.

Later in the night, the authorities set up automatic trap cages at four vantage points inside the campus. Live goats were kept as bait inside those traps. Nearly 170 staff members were mustered for the combing operation which continued till late in the night, the Director said. However, all their efforts to trap the carnivore remained unsuccessful till this evening.

Interestingly, the exact identity of the animal could not be established so far as it had apparently wallowed in the mud before entering the zoo campus. However, the authorities were able to confirm that it was a carnivore.

Mr Tyagi said all the carnivore enclosures in the zoo had been thoroughly checked and all animals were found to be in their enclosures. He also ruled out the possibility of any animal from the `Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre' which housed lions rescued from illegal circus companies. From here also, no animal was said to have come out of the cage, he asserted.

No clear pug-marks were traced by the zoo authorities so far and already steps were taken to find out if any circus show was on in the zoo vicinity, the authorities said.

The Park had been closed for visitors on Thursday also, Mr Tyagi said. ``All precautionary measures have been taken and there is no chance for the animal to go out of the zoo premises and the animal will be captured in a day or two'', he hoped.

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