Reported by Rudra Narayan Sarangi
Bhubaneswar, Mar 16:
There is good news for the animal lovers in Odisha. Four and a half years old lioness ‘Rukmini’, the pride of Nandankanan zoo, is pregnant.
The would be child has been fathered by ‘Narasingha’, who was brought here from the Bangalore zoo. Rukmini became pregnant in January this year and is expected to give birth to her baby on May 7.
The authorities of the zoo are quite excited and are leaving no stones unturned to take care of her during this crucial phase.
The number of lions in the zoo has dropped alarmingly since 2007. While there were 56 of them in the zoo in 1985, the number fell to just 28 in 2004 and 25, the lowest ever, in 2007.
The male lions had to go through sterilization operations to control their population as per a directive from central zoo authority in 2001.
A couple that had not been operated mated by chance that year due to a collapsed wall between their enclosures to give birth to four cubs named Kaveri, Karishma, Krishna and Supriya. However, Kaveri and Karishma died of snakebite in the zoo on June 7, 2007, bringing down the number of lions to 25.
The lion population never really took off after the incident as male lions of the zoo named Chris and Nolly had lost fertility. The hybrid lions (a cross between the Indian and African breeds) also started falling victim to diseases and the number kept coming down by two-three every year.
While the zoo authorities brought in two male lions from Junagarh zoo in 2012, they were not able to father the lionesses of the zoo.
The zoo authorities, however, had success after a long time once they brought in four more lions from Bangalore zoo on October 9, 2014. Narasingha belongs to this lot.