The Telegraph
Thursday , April 1 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heat blues for zoo king

Jamshedpur, March 31: As the steel city sizzles under an unusually hot March sun, life has become particularly difficult for the 18-year-old lion at the Tata Steel Zoological Park.

So badly has the heat affected the animal, already plagued by age-related complications, that the zoo authorities have taken emergency measures to revive him.

The condition of the lion, rescued from a circus and then brought to the zoo in 2005, is similar to that of Ben, the zoo tiger who died in October last year.

“The heat is proving too much for the lion to bear. We are trying our best to improve his condition,” said M. Palit, the Tata zoo veterinary doctor.

The lone male lion’s health problems started last year. The lion, who has always shunned the company of the lioness at the zoo, virtually survived on boneless beef last year after losing four canine teeth. His pre-molar tooth is also in poor condition, making feeding difficult. “The lion is not able to cope with the heat and has lost his appetite. We have installed a fan and also covered the enclosure with hay to protect him. We are also administering Electral and Glucon-D, besides anti-stress medicines. His condition is worrying,” Palit added.

The zoo-keepers are keeping round-the-clock watch over the lion, whose condition is deteriorating every day.

“The lion has not been in the best of health ever since he arrived here. He was weak and suffering from infections due to his stint in the circus,” a keeper said, adding that the lioness was in good health.

Meanwhile, the zoo authorities can no longer procure hybrid lions as the Central Zoo Authority has banned breeding.

The zoo’s bid to procure a pair of Asiatic lions from Junagadh-based Sakkarbaug zoo is stuck in a political quagmire. The Gujarat zoo has turned down the Tata Zoo’s request for a pair due to the proposed lion reintroduction project in Madhya Pradesh.

Differences between the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments have prevented Sakkarbaug zoo authorities from giving away surplus Asiatic lions to other zoos, including the one at Jamshedpur.

The problem began with the Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project proposed at Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. Sakkarbaug authorities are reluctant to let go of lions as it wants to retain its monopoly over the tourism revenue generated by the endangered species.

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