Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 21:
There is good news for animal lovers in Odisha. Ten-year old lioness Radha is going through labour pain in Odisha’s Nandankanan zoo and is set to deliver in the next three to four days!
While Radha was brought from Bangalore zoo, the would-be child has been fathered by ‘Chris’, who was born in the zoo and is of the same age as her.
The authorities of the zoo are quite excited and are leaving no stones unturned to take care of her during this crucial phase as there has been no lion birth in the zoo after 2005. Her health is being monitored through CCTV cameras and she is being fed vitamins and antibiotics. The authorities expect her to deliver 2-3 cubs.
The number of lions in the zoo has witnessed a sharp decline since 2007. While the number of lions in the zoo was 56 in 1985, it dropped to 28 in 2004 and 25 in 2007, its lowest.
The male lions of the zoo had to go through sterilization operations to control their population as per a directive from the central zoo authority in 2001. However, a couple that had not been operated mated by chance that year due to a collapsed wall between their enclosures and gave birth to four cubs named Kaveri, Karishma, Krishna and Supriya.
Kaveri and Karishma died of snake bite on June 7, 2007 bringing down the number of lions in the zoo to 25.
The lion population never really took off after the incident. The hybrid lions (Indian and African crossed) also started falling victim to diseases and the number kept coming down by two-three every year.
Even though the zoo authorities brought in two male lions from Junagarh zoo in 2012, they were not able to father the lionesses. The zoo authorities, however, had success after a long time after they brought in four more lions (2 male, 2 female) from Bangalore zoo on October 9, 2014. Narasingha belongs to this lot. Radha was among these two lionesses.