Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 23:
There is good news for animal lovers in Odisha! Ten-year old lioness Radha today gave birth to two cubs in the Nandankanan zoo taking the total number of lions in the zoo to 12.
This is the first delivery of lion cubs in the zoo after 10 long years. The authorities of the zoo are quite excited and are leaving no stones unturned to take care of Radha and her cubs. Her health is being monitored through CCTV cameras and she is being fed vitamins and antibiotics.
While Radha was brought from Bangalore zoo, the cubs have been 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 the lionesses. 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.