Gujarat is India’s pride as the only home of Asiatic lions, and now a 280-acre swath of land in the state is being prepared to become the world’s largest home for the most spectacular, exotic, and endangered animals. The Green Zoological, Rescue and Rehabilitation Kingdom is located on the Dwarka Jamnagar Road, approximately 300 kilometers from Ahmedabad. In two years, the zoo will be home to a veritable pantheon of big cats, where visitors can marvel at the fierce beauty of African lions and the “fearful symmetry,” to borrow William Blake’s phrase, of Royal Bengal tigers.
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is constructing the zoo in Jamnagar’s Lalpur taluka. As part of the RIL zoo’s rescue mission, a few African lions and Royal Bengal tigers have already arrived in Gujarat and are acclimating to the state’s conditions in safe enclosures set up 27km from the zoo enclave.
The acclimatization zone is currently shared by American bears (grizzly and black), jaguars, ocelots, and an albino lion. All of the animals rescued by the RIL zoo will eventually be housed in the public viewing area if they are deemed fully fit. They will be housed in the zoo’s exotic animal precincts, which are expected to welcome more species in the coming months.
Earthmovers and road levellers are currently working behind the RIL refinery, preparing the way for enclosures that will accommodate 1,689 animals from 79 different species. Among these, exotic animals will include cheetahs, jaguars, jaguarundis, pygmy hippos, giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, white rhinos, African elephants, and some others. Two cargo flights, one landing in Ahmedabad and the other in Jamnagar have already delivered supplies to the animal rescue centre. A dedicated team of nutritionists and veterinarians is caring for these animals. A special CCTV network is being set up to monitor the well-being of these animals.
The zoo’s master plan calls for ten major zones and 73 specialized enclosures. The largest, an exotic island, will be a major draw. There will be 238 animals in the Indian Forest zone. The animal paddocks will be mostly open, but PVB (polyvinyl butyral) laminated glass barriers, similar to those used at the Statue of Unity (SoU), will be installed in many enclosures for safety. But in the case of the aviary, visitors can walk into the enclosure.
“The Green Zoological, Rescue and Rehabilitation Kingdom in Jamnagar will be the world’s largest, and is being developed by Reliance Industries,” said Parimal Nathwani, RIL’s director of corporate affairs.