News and Gossip!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Tiger cubs hold zoo visitors spellbound

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 9. The city zoo offered an Onam bonanza to its visitors today by putting on display, three tiger cubs, for the first time since their birth in May this year.

The frisky cubs achieved instant celebrity status among the visitors who jostled to get a closer view of the latest additions to the zoo's tiger family. Though the cubs initially seemed cowed down by the presence of so many people around them, their boisterous nature soon got going, much to the delight of those gathered.

Each snarl and swing of a paw was greeted with laughter, applause and cheers, mainly from the children. By noon, the swelling crowd necessitated special security measures near the cage where the cubs were displayed.

The cubs, Appu, Karthi and Salim, were transferred to a special enclosure at one end of the carnivore cages, on Monday morning itself, as the zoo authorities wanted to give them time to get used to the shift from the small cubicle in which they were born. According to the zoo director, C. S. Yelakki, the delay in putting the cubs on display came about because the authorities wanted to make sure that the cubs were healthy enough to be put on display.

The cubs were given vaccinations against three ailments common in tiger cubs - feline pauleucopenia, feline calici virus and feline rhinotracheatis - when they were eight and 12 weeks old. Three to four months later, the cubs will be shifted from this cage to another, larger, enclosure, along with their mother.

The zoo also had a windfall from sale of entry tickets, today. When the last ticket was sold this evening, the zoo had raked in Rs. 68,000 - the highest collection on a single day this year. On `Avittom' day last year too, the zoo had sold almost the same number of tickets as it did today.

The average daily gate collection at the zoo is Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12, 000. This goes up marginally to about Rs. 18,000 on Sundays. Zoo authorities are expecting even larger number of visitors in the next few days as news of the display of tiger cubs spreads. The zoo has, in addition to its security staff, roped in the services of volunteers for crowd management.

Meanwhile, the construction of three open enclosures meant for primates and one, for the lions has been completed. The zoo has tentatively scheduled the inauguration of these enclosures for the first week of October.

Amusement park Veega Land adds 12 more rides

KOCHI: Call it the politicians’ day out and the youngsters in the city would have gone green with envy. Ministers K M Mani, M A Kuttapan and UDF convener Oommen Chandy inaugurated twelve new exhilarating rides at the Veega Land Amusement Park at Pallikkara on Saturday.

The chief attractions at the park are the four large rides; the water ride, hang glider, space gun and the children’s ride-which is a cluster of small rides. Mani inaugurated the water ride, while Kuttappan inaugurated the hang glider, and Oommen Chandy the topsy-turvy ride ‘space gun.’

Mayor C M Dinesh Mani inaugurated the children’s ride. The space gun has been imported from Italy. The rest of the rides have been developed within the country. In his address Mani said that tourism industry in the State will benefit immensely from the park generating employment opportunities and income for the State.

Veega Land managing director Kochouseph Chittilappilly said that around seven lakh tourists visited the park last year, of which 20 percent was visitors from other States and foreigners.

A library sans books

By N. Gopal Raj

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept. 7. It is a library with books in all the Indian languages — from Sanskrit texts and palm leaf manuscripts to more recent scholastic works. It adds 1,50,000 new books each year and is accessible from any part of the country.

The Digital Library of India will be inaugurated by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in New Delhi on Monday.

N. Balakrishnan of the Indian Institute of Science, who is the project coordinator, said 30,000 books, including ancient palm leaf manuscripts, had been scanned for the library. It has books in English, Sanksrit, Telugu, Urdu, Kannada and Tamil and hopes to have one lakh books online by the year end. The target of one million books will be reached only by 2008.

Scanning books and making them freely available over the Internet is only part of the task, maybe even the easier part of it. "This huge database of Indian language texts is a wonderful test-bed for developing software so that knowledge created in one language is accessible to all," Mr. Balakrishnan said. "We still do not have good optical character recognition (OCR) software for any Indian language." As a result, the photographs of all pages of the books have been put online as image files.

An OCR, on the other hand, is able to read these images, character by character. It paves the way for words and sentences to be recognised. Thus, searching for the text and translation into other languages also becomes possible.

The hope is that users will be able to search the entire collection in any language of their choice. When users pick out the documents they wish to see, those in other languages can be translated immediately. As a result, a Hindi speaker would be able to find material in, say, Kannada and Bengali books, whose existence he may not have known about earlier.

The Digital Library of India will be part of the Universal Library initiative promoted by Raj Reddy and other scientists at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the United States. India and China have both joined this programme. The library's web address is

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Paes out of hospital

New York Sept. 2. Tennis player Leander Paes has been released from the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Orlando, where he underwent treatment for a parasitic infection in the brain.

Paes, who was admitted to the hospital for a suspected brain tumour, was discharged on August 29, hospital sources said today.

The player, who was suffering from neurocysticercosis, a parasitic infection, is believed to be taking rest at his house in Orlando.

He is under medication and would take some time before resuming tennis.

Leander or his father, Vece Paes, could not be reached for details. — PTI