Heera, an Asiatic lion at BBP, breathed his last at a ripe age of 20
A pall of gloom descended on Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) after Heera, a male Asiatic lion and a star attraction at its Lion and Tiger Safari enclosure, died due to prolonged illness on Wednesday.
Usually Asiatic lions have a lifespan of 14 to 15 years in the wild, but Heera lived a whopping 20 years under captivity at the BBP.
Heera had been a part of the BBP family for the last 12 years ever since he was rescued from a circus in Maharashtra.
BBP sources revealed to BM that Heera has an epileptic fit in the first week of October and since then its health began deteriorating rapidly.
"It was not able to bear its weight on its forelimbs and used to fall while walking. Ever since the illness symptoms were noticed, our veterinarians were on high alert and continuously attending to it. A few days ago, it stopped taking any food or water and finally died on Wednesday morning," Santhosh Kumar, executive director of BBP briefed in an official communication.
A veterinarian at BBP said that the ailing lion was given multiple supplements of iron and calcium along with its daily food.
"Suffering epilepsy, the lion soon developed anorexia and refused to take any food. Instead, we began administering supplements like calcium and iron. Heera completing 20 years without any health issue was a laudable achievement," the veterinarian explained.
In the first week after his condition turned worse, doctors allowed it to be in lateral recumbence and treatment was given in isolation.
"He was showing signs of renal failure, suspected diabetes mellitus along with neurological manifestation. Towards the end it was not responding to the treatment at all," explained another veterinarian at BBP.
As a last resort, BBP officials decided to avail the services of veterinary experts, and Heera was diagnosed by Dr Ansar Kamaran, associate professor of medicine, Veterinary College, Hebbal.
"It was healthy all these years and never showed symptoms of illness. It fed on beef and supplements. Active and ferocious, it was much admired," said a caretaker.
Heera was rescued from New Grand Circus at Pandharapur in Maharashtra back in 2003 when he was just seven years old. Subsequently, the lion was handed over to BBP for care and upbringing. For more than 10 years, Heera was part of Lion and Tiger Safari of BBP entertaining the visitors and only a few months ago, it was shifted to the rescue centre.