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Kalam's pets to miss him at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi | June 14, 2007 02:28 IST
President APJ Abdul Kalam [Images], who is preparing for his exit, will be missed by a menagerie of animals who call Rashtrapati Bhavan home.
Foremost among them is little Tipu, a two-year-old fawn who was born in Rashtrapati Bhavan but with a defect in his foot.
The President's House has a state-of-the-art veterinary facility and Kalam oversaw the surgery that set Tipu's foot right. When Tipu's mother refused to accept him, Kalam adopted him and for nine months fed him milk from a bottle.
Tipu is not the only case. A Hanoverian horse, belonging to the only cavalry division in the Indian Army, the 61st Cavalry, was operated for cataract inside Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Hearing of this, a travelling circus camping outside New Delhi sought help from the Delhi Zoo and Kalam for their star attraction, a hippopotamus, who also had cataract. He was also operated upon in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Kalam's routine is incomplete without feeding the peacocks who live in the famous Mughal Garden. When one of the peacocks broke his leg, a splint was arranged and a uniquely delicate operation, called intra-medulary pinning, performed. An anxious owner of an eagle, hearing of this, contacted Rashtrapati Bhavan for his own pet, who had fractured his foot.
Then there are stories about a snake, whose vertebrae was shattered, being nursed to health by Kalam after an operation. And the fact that Kalam's favourite room had a direct view of the Mughal Garden. Kalam got the wooden windows which impaired his view of the world-famous garden removed and put glass instead.
His love of nature extends to environment as a whole.
Rashtrapati Bhavan was one of the first public buildings to adopt rainwater harvesting and start a herbal garden, which is being retrofitted to enable it to be powered entirely by solar energy. A plan to digitise the Bhavan's library of 16,000 books is also under way.
Shivraj Patil, who is most likely to succeed Kalam, has listed his interests as shooting and horse-riding. One wonders what direction he will give to Rashtrapati Bhavan.