Lions on State Level

Director´s view

Gábina Knapová  |  19. 01. 2015

Mr Rana, the director, set behind the wheel of his Jeep and we drove to the other end of his zoo. And there they were, all three of them in one enclosure – Jamvan, Jennifer and Gini, three young Indian Lions, who are scheduled to move from Gujarat to Prague this summer.

Jamvan. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo Jamvan. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

I put a telephoto lens on the body of my camera, but at that moment magnificent Jamvan came to look at me from near. Then Jennifer gracefully strode to me and in the end also Gini succumbed to curiosity. I admired them from the nearest possible distance and felt their breath at my face. Although we haven´t reach the goal yet, after two years we came close to it so much, that I could just fully enjoy these moments.

For more than 20 years nobody in Europe had succeeded in bringing Indian Lions from Gujarat. It is a small miracle and a huge credit to our Ambassador to India, Mr Stašek, that Jamvan, Jennifer and Gini are now waiting only for arrangement of the formalities and above all for the season to be favourable for their transportation to Prague.

Indian Lions live in the wild only in Gujarat, India, in the Gir National Park and its surroundings. Gujaratis are immensely proud of them, lions being the symbol of their country. For years they have been suing the Federal government, which wants to move some of the lions to the reserve established in Madhya Pradesh, and they are also extremely reluctant to send them abroad.

Thinking about the acquisition of lions for our zoo would be unimaginable without the consent of then Prime Minister of Gujarat, Mr Narendra Modi, today´s Prime Minister of India. After gaining his approval numerous meetings on local and state level followed, and then the relevant agreements were drawn up. Our Indian partners wished to sign one of them during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar. It was a sign that they placed considerable importance on it. However, I did not expect, that the signature would happen during an event where, after a small delay, a familiar tall man with characteristically distinctive haircut would appear - John Kerry.

Yes, lions are part of the heritage of Gujarat, as well of all of India, and the fact that they were promised to us is an enormous honour for Prague Zoo, and also to the entire Czech nation. Not to speak about how amazing Jamvan, Jennifer and Gini are.

When I watched them in Sakkarbaug Zoo, holding my camera with its telephoto lens in my hand, I was fascinated. Jamvan suddenly stuck his tongue out and tried to lick my lens through the fence. Mr Rana laughed loudly. He did a good job in picking them for us!

Miroslav Bobek, Director, Prague Zoo

Lions on State Level