MOHALI: The ambitious plan of reviving the lion safari at Chhatbir Zoological Park has taken a hit with the death of two-and-a-half-year-old Gagan, a male Asiatic lion, at the zoo here on Tuesday, due to congenital defect in the kidneys. The pair of Asiatic lions, brought to the zoo in March this year, had been procured after great difficulty from Gujarat, which has time and again refused to send these lions to other states.
It has taken a one on one talk between the chief ministers of Punjab and Gujarat to swing the deal. The then forests and wildlife minister Tikshan Sud had landed up at Rajkot in Gujarat to fetch the lions in March this year.
A team of three veterinary doctors, Dr M P Singh, senior veterinary officer and veterinary officers Dr P K Bansal and Dr Rajkumar conducted the post-mortem and their report stated that the likely cause of death was generalized septicaemia, which occurred as a result of rupture of urinary bladder.
The report states that the rupture of urinary bladder is attributed to congenital defect in the kidneys. The left kidney was of normal size, but the right one was very small, atrophied and almost non-functional.
Speaking to TOI, Chhatbir zoo director Basanta Rajkumar said, "Gagan had been having problems off and on after his arrival and this was in sharp contrast to the female brought along with him from Gujarat. In fact during July, the lion had shunned food for about four days, but recovered after treatment by zoo doctors in consultation with doctors and experts from around the country."
However, wildlife experts do not believe this theory and stated that if there was a congenital disease affecting the lion, then those charged with bringing the lions to the state should have conducted a thorough health check of the lions before bringing them here.
Rajkot zoo in charge Dr R K Hirpara told TOI over phone that at the time of exchanging animals the veterinary doctors of the respective zoo examine the beast and then only the transfer is allowed.