From Russia, with love: A pair of pumas for Delhi Zoo

A puma weighs around 60-100 kg, has a small, broad head with small rounded ears, a powerful body with long hind legs and tail

A pair of puma will soon arrive from Russia to join other foreign-origin species like grey kangaroos and South American jaguars currently housed at the National Zoological Park.

The Central Zoo Authority of India (CZA) has approved the exchange of a white tigress from Delhi Zoo for a pair of Puma, also known as cougar, mountain lion or panther, from Krasnoyarks Park of flora and fauna 'Roev Ruchey" in Russia, officials said.

A cat of many names, the puma (Felis concolor), weighs around 60-100 kg, has a small, broad head with small rounded ears, a powerful body with long hind legs and tail, which is tipped with black.

The geographic range of the near threatened species is the largest of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere from Canada through the US, Central and South America to the southern tip of Chile.

The understanding between the two sides was reached during the third meeting of the sub-group on Tiger/Leopard conservation between India and Russia held in Moscow in September.

According to the agreement, India will provide a Royal Bengal white tigress, between one and two years old, from the Delhi Zoo to Krasnoyarks Park in the trans-Siberian region.

"The exchange of species is expected to happen in three months," P S Bonal, member secretary of CZA said.

He said there is the need of documentation from CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) administration authorities both in Moscow and New Delhi to complete the process.

"It is in the process," he said. According to WWF, a nature conservation organisation, the male puma can often patrol areas in excess of 100 square miles, although these will overlap the territories of several females who maintain smaller ranges. The cubs are born with spotted coats which fade as they mature.

The puma, while hunting, uses the strength of its powerful hind legs to lunge at its prey with single running jumps that can reach in excess of 12 m (40 ft). The puma makes many sounds, including an almost human-like scream when courting, but it cannot roar, the organisation said.

A pair of grey kangaroos (Australia), three African antelopes (Red Lechwe) and a pair of jaguars (South America) have been introduced in the zoo in the past.

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