Friday, September 14, 2007
Tiny Tejas' key role! (Cute Lion Cub!)
THIS cute-looking lion cub might only be small, but he could be the key to helping his species survive.
He is called Tejas and he has been lapping milk from a bottle since he was born at Chester Zoo just a few days ago.
Tejas is one of only 350 Asiatic lions left anywhere in the world.
And keepers hope he will one day join a breeding programme that will help his species to survive for generations to come.
Mike Jordan, a curator at the zoo, said: "Asiatic lions face some real threats in the wild. The fact that 17 lions alone have died in the last few months, eight of them from poaching, shows just how critical the situation is for the Asiatic lion.
"That's why this young cub's birth is so important. The fact that Tejas is male means he has the potential to play a really important role in the breeding programme for his species."
Asiatic lions once ranged from South Asia to the Mediterranean, but are now only found wild in India. They live in the Gir Forest, in Gujarat, and there are only about 350 left.
Poachers hunt them for their claws, they are poisoned for attacking livestock and they are also threatened by floods, fires and epidemics.
Some drown in wells or are electrocuted by crude electric fences erected by farmers.
Some 17 lions have been killed in the Gir Forest over the past five months. Efforts are underway to establish a second lion population in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Tejas, whose name is Indian for "sharpness", is being fed especially-formulated cat milk every three hours and is being hand-reared by the zoo's carnivore team.
His mum, Asha, also gave birth to another cub, but he was not strong enough to survive.
Mike will now travel to India in November to help set up a meeting between conservationists and the Indian government over the crisis facing Asiatic lions.
He added: "It goes without saying that we were sad to lose the other cub. However, Tejas is going from strength to strength and will be weaned at about eight weeks of age."