Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A new arrival at Chester Zoo

A new arrival at Chester Zoo
Wirral Globe News site

He's just a few days old but Tejas, the tiny lion cub, offers a glimmer of hope for his species.

The male Asiatic Lion, who is being hand-reared by Chester Zoo's carnivore team, was born to mum Asha after a three and half month pregnancy.

With between 300-350 Asiatic Lions left in the wild, the little male will make a big difference to the conservation of his species.

Asiatic Lions can now only be found in India's Gir Forest and 17 lions have been killed there in the last five months. With the number of Asiatic Lions plummeting, Chester's new cub will eventually play a major part in a breeding programme for his species, ensuring it continues.

Tejas - who is being fed a special formulated cat milk every three hours and whose name is Indian for sharpness - was one of two born to mum Asha. However, the other male cub was not strong enough to survive, weighing far less than his 1.2 kilo sibling.

Mike Jordan, the zoo's Curator of Higher Vertebrates, said: "Asiatic Lions face some real threats in the wild and the fact that 17 lions alone have died in the last few months - eight of those from poaching - shows just how critical the situation is for the Asiatic Lion.

The fact that Tejas is a male means he has the potential to play a really important role in the breeding programme for his species.

"It goes without saying that we were sad to lose the other cub however the surviving cub is going from strength to strength and will be weaned at about eight weeks of age."

In November, Mike will be travelling to India when he will facilitate a meeting with the IUCN and Indian Government to discuss ways of tackling the crisis facing Asiatic Lions.
4:47pm Tuesday 11th September 2007

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