By Mayuri Phadnis, Pune Mirror | Jan 10, 2017, 02.30 AM IST
A pair of the big cats brought over to city zoo; possibly the first in the state
The Rajeev Gandhi Zoological Park and Research Centre is now home to
two Asiatic lions that came to the city from Gujarat around 15 days ago.
The public will, however, have to wait to get a glimpse of the big
“They have minor injuries and are in quarantine as
required when animals are transported to the zoo. They will be open for
public display in due time,” informed a senior official from the zoo on
condition of anonymity. While he did not specify dates, he did say that
the injuries were merely those which ordinarily occur while being
transported in cages.
The zoo, while being home to other cats
like a white tiger and a yellow Bengal tiger, has never had Asiatic
lions. The exchange between Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden in Junagarh in
Gujarat and the Pune zoo has therefore given the city its first ever
pair of lions.
The lion is called Tejas, the lioness Subbi.
These have arrived in the city after a follow-up of almost three years.
After receiving permissions from the Central Zoo Authority, in March
2013, the city zoo had written to the Junagarh zoo for the exchange.
However, since lions are the state animal of Gujarat, their relocation
is not allowed without the permission of their chief minister.
Finally, a couple of months ago, the green signal was given.
Subsequently, the zoo started making funds available for construction of
an enclosure as per the norms of the central zoo authority. The
enclosures are finally ready.
Pune zoo is said to be the first
in the state to have received Asiatic lions. Although Borivali National
Park has a pair, they are of mixed breed.
The big cats were
brought by road amid all precautions such as regular intake of food and
water and transportation with due permissions in a specially designed
cage. Once they adjust to the surroundings in the city, their enclosure
will be opened up for display.
“The facility is close to those
at Gir National Park and is the only one with a recognised breeding
centre. In the last 50 years, we have sent more than 200 Asiatic lions
to different zoos. This is the only place where one can see pure-breed
Asiatic lions,” informed a senior official from the Sakkarbaug
Zoological Park who refused to divulge his name.