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LAHORE: A pair of green-winged red macaws who are in Lahore zoo for the last six years are so much loved by children that recently they were adopted by a group of school kids.

Long-tailed macaws, owing to their eye-catching colour combination have always been a treat to watch for the zoo visitors. The pair was adopted by children from Allied School’s Bisma Campus, Jallo More, for six months. These children will come to zoo every month, spend some time with these macaws. They have named this pair Lee and love.

The story of Lee and Love got unfolded in 2008 when they were confiscated at Lahore air port by the concerned authorities and were later handed over to the zoo. In the six years at the zoo, the pair has developed a lot of intimacy and love and now if compelled to live separately they make a lot of noise, pleading for reunion, says the zoo staff.

The Lahore Zoo presently has four macaws, all of them confiscated in 2008 at Lahore air port. The other two are exotic blue gold macaws from South America.

The green-winged red macaw pair’s market value is around Rs0.45 million, while the blue gold pair is worth Rs0.3 million. Lahorites are so enamoured with these birds that all of them have been adopted by different educational institutions; Allied School, University of Punjab and Lahore Grammar School. The life span of these macaws is usually 40 to 50 years. The macaws at the zoo are now 20 year old.

The zoo director, Naeem Bhatti, told Dawn that macaws were the most attractive birds at the zoo and children simply love them. “ Children would also draw them in an attempt to copy the magnificent colours these exquisite birds are endowed with”, said Mr Bhatti.

Mr Bhatti told this scribe that the Lahore Zoo will celebrate World Monkey Day on Sunday (today). He said the children who would visit zoo on Sunday could enjoy themselves at stalls offering face painting, food, animal sketching and also feed monkeys. About the origin of Monkey Day, the director said it was started back in 2000 in Michigan State, US and was also observed in many other countries. He said it was marked to create awareness about the species and to show love and care for these animals.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2014