Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 25:
There is sad news for animal lovers in Odisha: one of the two cubs born to 10-year old lioness Radha on Thursday in the Nandankanan zoo has died taking the total number of lions in the zoo to 11.
The death of the cub has been confirmed by the zoo authorities. An atmosphere of gloom prevails in the zoo, which was celebrating the birth of the two lion cubs after a gap of 11 years just two days ago.
Noy just zoo authorities, animal lovers in the state too were euphoric over the birth of the lion cubs after a prolonged barren period during which the lion population in the zoo had fallen drastically.
The authorities of the zoo were quite excited and were leaving no stones unturned to take care of Radha and her cubs.
The zoo authorities kept a close watch on her health and were monitoring it through CCTV cameras while she was being fed vitamins and antibiotics.
While Radha was brought from Bangalore zoo, the cubs were fathered by ‘Chris’, who was born in the zoo and is of the same age as her.
The number of lions in the zoo has witnessed a sharp decline since 2007. While it was 56 in 1985, it dropped to 28 in 2004 and 25 in 2007.
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 in 2005.
Kaveri and Karishma, however, died of snakebite 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 cubs. The authorities had success after a long time after they brought in four more lions (2 male, 2 female) from Bangalore zoo on October 9, 2014. Radha was among these two lionesses