Shimla, Jun 25 (PTI) A pair of snow leopards will soon be among the attractions at the Himalayan Nature Park in Kufri, about 16 kilometres away from here, an official said today. Also Read - Mamata Banerjee Urges EC To Merge Remaining Phases of Bengal Polls Into One Amid COVID Cases Surge

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) had approved in April a proposal to bring two big cats to the Kufri zoo, as Himalayan Nature Park is popularly known, he added. Also Read - EC Calls All-Party Meeting In Kolkata As COVID Cases Surge In Bengal, Discussion Over Poll Campaigns Likely

Kufri Range Forest Officer (RFO) Himanshu told PTI that the CZA had given approval to bring a male-female pair of leopards to Kufri from the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling in West Bengal under animal exchange programme. Also Read - Mamata Banerjee Blames 'Outsiders' Brought by BJP For COVID Surge In West Bengal

Though the CZA had given its approval, the exact date for bringing the leopard pair has not been finalised, he said. But the pair would definitely be here by year end, he added.

“The current hot weather conditions in Bihar, UP, Delhi and Haryana are not allowing us to bring the snow leopards by road. The prevailing heat wave may harm snow leopards as they are habitual to cold weather conditions,” the RFO said.

We are exploring the possibility of bringing them here from the Darjeeling zoo by air, he said.

If the Kufri zoo authorities do not get permission for bringing the snow leopards by air, they would be brought to the zoo by road in winter, most probably in November or December, Himanshu said.

He added that a pair of snow leopards – Subash and Sapna – was earlier kept in an enclosure in Kufri zoo fourteen years ago. At that time too, they were brought from the Darjeeling zoo by road in a pre designed cage.

It took about fifteen days to bring them here under the supervision of forest officials and veterinary doctors, the RFO said.

Female leopard Sapna died in 2007, subsequently, the male leopard Subash was sent to Darjeeling zoo for breeding in 2012, he added.

Snow leopards were, earlier, the centre of attraction at the Kufri zoo. That is why, efforts were being made to bring snow leopards again for which the CZA has given its nod, Himanshu said.

Listed as an endangered species under the Wildlife Act, snow leopards are found in their natural habitats at Pin Valley National Park, Lahaul-Spiti, Great Himalayan National Park, Kullu, and Kibber Wild Life Santuary at Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.

The Kufri hill station was founded by Britishers in 1819. The zoo was established in 1992 in Kufri. About two lakh persons visit Kufri zoo every year, the RFO said. Being tourist season, four to five thousand tourists are visiting Kufri zoo daily these days, he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.