|Wednesday , March 27 , 2013- Lions & leopards arrive from Gujarat after 4-day journey|
|LELIN KUMAR MALLICK|
Bhubaneswar, March 26: A pair of Asiatic lions and leopards, gifted to the Nandankanan Zoological Park by the Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh, Gujarat, reached here last night.
A four-member team from Nandankanan, which included assistant director of the zoo K.L. Purohit, a veterinary doctor and two animal keepers, left Bhubaneswar for Junagadh on March 17. They reached there three days later. The journey back to Bhubaneswar began on March 22.
While the animals were brought in four iron cages, the authorities had to cease travelling during the day to avoid heat-related stress. “We used to start our journey after sunset. During the day, we ensured that the animals got sufficient rest near forest areas. We had to take permissions from the forest officials concerned to arrange shelters for us and the animals,” said Purohit.
The team halted at three places — Bharuch in Gujarat, Akola in Maharashtra and Sambalpur in Odisha — before reaching Nandankanan.
During the journey, the animals were given anti-stress medicines, glucose and oral rehydration salts such as Electral to prevent dehydration.
They were fed only during the day. Though they used to be fed around 5kg buffalo meat everyday at Sakkarbaug Zoo, they were served around one-and-half kilograms of chicken during transit. At present, each of them is being given 7kg buffalo meat and chicken.
The health condition of the animals was monitored every three hours. It took the team nearly 96 hours to reach Nandankanan from Junagadh, during which they covered around 2,200km.
Each of the iron cages used for transporting the animals weighed around five quintals. Sources in the zoo said that the animals would remain in quarantine for about 20 days before the public can see them.
“They have been kept in enclosures outside the exhibition area. The quarantine period is vital as symptoms of diseases can be spotted during this time. That would prevent any communicable diseases from spreading to other zoo inmates,” said a senior zoo officer.
While the lion is about 12 years old, the lioness is 11. The male leopard is five and the female is three. The arrival of the new guests has bolstered the lion and leopard population of Nandankanan.
Now, the zoo has 13 lions and seven leopards, including the new arrivals. The zoo authorities had been trying to get a pair of lions, as their dwindling numbers were a cause of concern.
Though the Nandankanan zoo used to have more than 50 lions about 12 years ago, the population fell to 11. Out of these one is nine years old, while others are in the age group of 15 to 20.
No lions were born at the zoo in the last eight years. The last lion born was in 2004-05.