Amid the gloom in the wake of cyclone Bulbul, the city has a reason to cheer. The Alipore Zoological Gardens welcomed a new guest — an endangered sangai or Manipuri dancing deer — on Saturday, the day the cyclone made landfall in Bengal. The zoo authorities have named the fawn, which was born around 7am on Saturday, Bulbul.
Talking to TOI, zoo director Asish Kumar Samanta said the fawn has been kept under constant watch. “As we were busy taking precautionary measures at the zoo on Saturday morning to thwart any possible impact of the cyclone, a keeper informed us that a fawn was born to a brow-antlered deer, which is considered an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list. Since it was born on the day the cyclone made landfall here, we named the calf Bulbul,” Samanta said.
According to him, there are 18 other such deer in the zoo now and the new guest takes the count to 19. He also added that the dancing deer at the zoo had never been named earlier.
The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur. Also known as Manipur brow-antlered deer, it is the state animal of Manipur. Its original natural habitat are the floating marshy grasslands of Keibul Lamjao National Park, located in the southern parts of Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in eastern India.
Samanta said the brow-antlered deer is medium-sized, with uniquely distinctive antlers measuring 100cm–110cm in length with extremely long brow tine, which form the main beam. The two tines form a continuous curve at right angles to the closely set pedicels. This signifies its name, brow-antlered deer, since the forward-protruding beam appears to come out of the eyebrow.
Culturally, sangai is deeply associated with legends and folklore of the Manipuris. Based on a popular folk legend, the sangai is interpreted as the binding soul between humans and the nature.
Samanta added that there was no major damage to the zoo or the animals on Saturday. “As a precautionary measure, we kept most of the animals, including tiger, kangaroo and elephant, indoors. Besides, special teams of zoo keepers were on duty throughout the night,” he said.
According to him, three to four branches fell at night. “But there was no impact as we trim the zoo trees throughout the year,” Samanta added.
Source: Times of India