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By A Newsman

Siliguri, 25 September: LIVING up to their announcement, the Bengal Animal Safari Park authorities in Siliguri today introduced the much-awaited elephant safari service from today.

State tourism minister Gautam Deb and forest minister Binay Krishna Barman inaugurated the service by taking a ride on an elephant back.

There are two female elephants ~ Urmila (38 years) and Laxmi (58 years) ~ who have been brought in from the Buxa Tiger Reserve in the Dooars to take visitors on a tour of the near 700 acres wildlife park locate inside the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary at Shorea on Sevoke Road about 7 km off Siliguri town.

On inaugurating the service, minister Deb said that it was remarkable that within about 1.8 years of opening, the Park now grown so much. “Herbivore safari and tiger safari are already there; today we have introduced elephant safari. Besides four white peacocks have been brought in today and over the next few months, one more rhino will be housed here.”

The Park authorities said that for now, the elephant safari will be operated in two shifts ~ in the morning and the afternoon. Each shift will comprise of three safari rides. One ride will cost a visitor Rs 300.

The Park opens at 9 am and closes at 5 pm, but the entry and booking counter close 30 minutes before. The authorities keep the Park closed to visitors every Monday for cleaning and maintenance.