To reintroduce captive-bred endangered animals like red panda and snow leopard into the wild, the Darjeeling zoo has now started a new breeding conservation centre for wildlife.
Built over an area of five hectares inside the zoo, the centre hosts three pairs of snow leopards and two pairs of red panda, the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park director, A K Jha, said.
"As per the guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority, our main objective would be to ensure a safe and healthy transition of captive-bred animals from the zoo to the wild jungle. This new centre with all the required facilities will help us achieve that," he told PTI.
In the years 2003 and 2004, they had released four red pandas, born under captivity, into the wild. Two of them, however, died later on for not being able to take the pressure of jungle.
"Our resources were limited that time, but now we have guidelines from IUCN and CZA to guide us in this. We are also doing our own feasibility study before we restart the process. We are very cautious this time," the zoo director said.
Although snow leopards have been born under captivity here since 1989, yet they have not released any of them into the wild so far.