Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nandankanan Zoo to Add Four Lions to Its Pride.

BHUBANESWAR: With its existing pride of lions old and way past breeding age, the Nandankanan Zoological Park is all set to procure two pairs of the large cats from Karnataka’s Bannerghatta National Park.
In exchange, the city zoo will send four pairs of barking deer, four Open Billed Storks, two pairs of Jungle Cats and three four-horned antelopes (one male, two female) to the Karnataka park.
The programme, which has received the nod of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), is likely to be completed in a couple of weeks. The two pairs of mixedbreed lions are expected to give a boost to Nandankanan’s plan of reviving its fast-dwindling lion population.
Currently, it is left with just five lions of its old population, including two male and three female. But, all of them are 16 years and above, rendering the big cats unfit for breeding.
The situation was completely reverse 20 years ago. The zoo boasted of a pride of 54 lions so much so that housing them had emerged a problem even though Nandankanan has a safari dedicated to the felines.
Nandankanan gave away a number of its lions - mostly a cross between Asiatic and African sub-species - as gifts to other zoos because of over-crowding.
The last lion birth recorded in Nandankanan was in 2004. Though the zoo authorities had attempted breeding during that period, the efforts bore no fruit. In 2004-05, as many as 10 cubs were born but none survived beyond six months - inbreeding is believed to have weakened their gene pool.
Now with its Lion Safari - spread over 20 hectares - wearing a deserted a look, Nandaknanan is out to resurrect its population.
Last year, the zoo brought in a pair of Asiatic lions from Gujarat’s Junagarh. Earlier this year, it successfully convinced the Zoological Centre of Ramat Gan in Tel Aviv district of Israel for a pair of African lions apart from zebras as gifts.
“The process for getting the lions from Israel is being expdited. We are hopeful that Nandankanan will have a sustainable lion population soon,” Zoo Director Dr Sudarshan Panda said.

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