Death of a Hobra

The first thing I thought of when reading this front-page story in the Times of India today was, “Couldn’t they have let the poor thing live somewhere in the country?”

As I’ve said before, animal rights have a long way to go in this country. Full text of the “hobra,” an animal oddity similar to a liger, continues…

Lonely horse-zebra hybrid dies

MUMBAI: This one is a bizarre, beastly tale.An exotic hybrid of a horse and a zebra?described as a ‘hobra’?led a solitary life for 16 years at the Byculla zoo before a massive heart attack killed it on Independence Day, liberating the 24-year-old freak animal from a wretched, claustrophobic existence.

Since the rules of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) do not allow a public display of crossbreeds, themale hobra was kept in a small room inside the zoo hospital premises in Byculla, where it breathed its last. The body has been buried in the zoo hospital grounds. The hobra had been rescued from a circus and was kept at the Jijamata Udyan where it was even displayed in a public cage for a few years until the CZA rules were implemented.

Its death has angered animal activists who were trying to move the hobra to a more spacious and healthy environment for nearly two years. “It?s very sad that the hobra could not enjoy the final years of its life in a better manner despite our best efforts to move it out of the zoo,” said chief functionary of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA-India) Anuradha Sawhney.

The zoo?s doctor M S Karawale reasoned that the hobra mainly died due to “old age”. When asked why the hybrid was always kept in a small room, barely 30 feet in length, he added, “The hobra could not be displayed in a public zoo enclosure, which is why it had to be accommodated in the hospital area where it was looked after.”

Animal activists feel that many circuses illegally cross-breed species for added public attraction. “There are cross-breeds like tigon (male tiger with female lion) or liger (male lion with female tiger) that are created for scientific study. But in circuses, such cross breeding like the hobra should never be allowed as it is unlawful and unnatural,” said secretary of Bombay SPCA J C Khanna.