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An identity of their own

Kusum Kanojia, Nov 15, 2012, DHNS
On My back Enjoying a good sleep.

Most of us know the inmates of Delhi Zoo by their species but interestingly many of them too have names. Animals born in the zoo are named by their caretakers, while most of them got their names in their previous habitats. A few of them received a special privilege such as Shankar.

An African elephant, Shankar got his name from former India president Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma. The zoo curator Riyaz Ahmad Khan informs Metrolife, “Shankar was gifted to the former president on his visit to Zimbabwe. That’s how he got his name. He has been in the Delhi zoo since 1998.” Shankar came to Delhi zoo along with a female elephant Vambai, named after wife of an African Ambassador. However, Vambai died in 2001.

Almost all animals have names similar to human beings which have been given to them by their keepers.


Lions and tigers categorically have a chip injected inside their skin with their names and other details embedded on it for identification purposes.

“Ramu, a tiger was brought from Indore and he was given this name by their authorities there. Then there is the tigress Jinjin who was born in our zoo. The other tigers and tigresses are Kunti, Rani, Priya and Naresh. All tigers and lions have a chip inside them that carries all the information about them. This is done to avoid confusion and keep a track of their numbers,” he says.

“Most of the white tigers and tigresses we had, have been sent to other zoos. The left ones are Raja, Kalpana, Geeta, Seeta, Rani, Veena, Vijay and Pattu,” he adds.

A Jaguar comes swiftly running towards his keeper as he shouts ‘Mohan Mohan’.

Most zoo inmates are close only to their keepers who take care of them and reciprocate well when they are called by them with their names. “Chimpanzees Rubi and Mani reciprocate instantly when called, especially at meal times. We celebrate the birthdays of those inmates too - at least those whose date of birth is known to us,” laughs the curator. Of the two rhinos here, one goes by the name Rajlakshmi. So, the next time you visit the zoo, try calling them by their names and get their instant reactions.

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