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With their gigantic figure and majestic appearance, elephants have always been magnets for tourists across the country. Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park is no exception when it comes to attracting tourists with pachyderms. Though the forests in Telangana might not be home to elephants, the zoo, which houses five of them, is a special attraction for many, particularly children.

As World Elephant Day is observed on August 12, the elephants there will be celebrating a day devoted to them. The zoo has had a separate enclosure for the elephants spread over eight acres since its inception in 1963. All the five Asiatic elephants here, Vijaya (34), Asha (50), Rajini (50), Seetha (50) and Rani (82) are staying hale and hearty, according to officials.
Rani, gifted to the zoo by the Nizam, had celebrated her 80th birthday in 2018 on a grand scale.

A few weeks ago, Upasana Kamineni Konidela, vice-chairperson of the Apollo Foundation and Apollo Life, adopted Rani for a period of one year by paying Rs 5 lakh. Elephants from the zoo play a key role during important festivals in the city by leading the processions.

For more than a decade, Rajini has been an integral part of the Bonalu festivities in the city and carries the Ghatam, leading the Bonalu Jatara.

According to officials, around Rs 5 lakh is spent on each elephant every year. The daily feed for each elephant includes a staggering 250 kg of grass, sugar cane, jaggery, boiled rice, ghee, groundnut oil and 250 litres of water. “Given their size, children are always attracted to elephants in the zoo. We take a lot of care to make sure they stay healthy,” a senior official said.
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