Let’s meet Abhaya the little Jumbo

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Hi kids, would you like to be friends with a little jumbo..? If you visit Dehiwala Zoo, you will get the chance meet a new friend, Abhaya; the little elephant – by Malaka Rodrigo

Abhaya came to Dehiwala Zoo only two weeks ago. Before that, Abhaya was at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The uncles in Pinnawala put Abhaya into a small lorry, early morning on April 23 and after
saying goodbye to his Pinnawala friends, Abhaya started his exciting journey to Colombo.

On the way to Colombo, Abhaya looked curiously at the moving vehicles on the road and was amazed at the large buildings that are higher than trees he had seen in the jungle. The little elephant was anxious to meet new friends at Dehiwala Zoo.

Meanwhile, on hearing about Abhaya’s arrival, lots of friends came to greet him. Abhaya was welcomed by a group of children with an ‘Araliya flower’ garland around his neck. Abhaya had never worn such a beautiful garland, so he was happy with the welcome and immediately became a friend of these little kids.

The director uncles at the zoo arranged a grand party to welcome Abhaya. In fact Abhaya got his name only after coming to the zoo. A little competition was conducted for the zoo visitors to suggest a name for the little elephant and 450 had proposed many names – including kids who visited zoo that day.

This was a big occasion for the zoo, so director uncles and aunties also consulted an astrologer guru to select a suitable name out of the proposed ones. Finally the name ‘Abhaya’ was selected. Kids, when you visit the zoo – remember to make friends with ‘Abhaya’ because he needs your love so much, as he lost his mother and family due to an accident. Do you want to know that story too..??

Abhaya was a baby elephant roaming freely in the jungles in Habarana with his parents. But they often had to cross the railroad to move to the other side to drink water. Abhaya was a playful elephant who sometimes didn’t listen to his mother.

On a dark night last year, Abhaya came to cross the railroad together with his mom. Abhaya was
playing with his best friend who was the same age, despite their mothers’ warnings not to play on the rail track. Abhaya and friend were in playful mood and didn’t hear the noise of approaching train.

The mothers hearing the sound, hurried to rescue their babies, but the train was so fast that it hit all four elephants. Both mothers died in the collision. Abhaya and his friend had their legs badly fractured. Though his friend didn’t survive, Abhaya fought harder and was cured thanks to the treatment of the Doctor Uncles.

However Abaya is sad that he lost his mother, best friend and auntie. Abhaya’s leg is also a little shorter, so don’t try to overly pet him. The doctor uncles say, it is also not good to feed anything to Abhaya – remember, it is not a good habit to eat outside your main meals – so never try to feed the elephant anything, as he gets breakfast, lunch and dinner in time.

The baby hippos

Abhaya is not the only new addition to the Zoo. The Pygmy Hippo family of the Dehiwala Zoo are now having a family of playful baby hippos.

All of them are females and the eldest baby of this family is named ‘Hapani’.

Born six months before, ‘Hapani’ is now a real skillful Hippo. She likes to swim together with her mom in their den.

The other two babies are named Hiyara and Sameena. ‘Hiyara’s’ birthday falls in February while the youngest sibling ‘Sameena’ was born in March.

Pygmy Hippos are smaller than the River Hippos (or Nile Hippos). They live in Western Africa and are threatened in the wild.

published on SundayTimes on 15.05.2011 http://sundaytimes.lk/110515/FunDay/fut_05.html

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