Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Footfall goes up to see big cats play in safari

Footfall goes up to see big cats play in safari
Times of India By Pankaj Dhiman

They are the most sought-after couple this season. We aren't talking about some celebs from Hollywood or Bollywood, but they are enjoying attention which isn't any less.

Gagan and Heli ' the new pair of Asiatic lion family are one of the major attractions among visitors. This pair arrived at Chhatbir zoo sometime in mid-March and was shifted to lion safari after a month of medical supervision.

Due to these big cats, Chhatbir zoo has recorded over 16,000 footfall in one month during weekends only. Zoo authorities stated that there has been an increase of around 500 visitors per week as compared to previous months.

Officials at the Chhatbir zoo said they have been witnessing a huge rush during the weekends. The summer vacations are still going on and more people from across the region are expected to visit the lion safari. There is also one old pair of hybrid lions at the safari.

Weekends are witnessing huge rush as compared to the week days. Visitors are coming from not only Tricity, but also from places such as Ludhiana, Patiala, Ropar and Rajpura as the summer vacations are going on. May 21 and 22 have witnessed maximum number of people around 8,000 when Tricity had witnessed a sudden rainfall and weather turned pleasant. ''The number of visitors has considerably increased due to the new pair. We have taken all appropriate steps to take care of the new inmates so that they adjust well here,'' said Basanta Rajkumar, director Chhatbir zoo.

Ragini Khanna, a teacher from Ludhiana, said, ''Earlier, whenever I came here, the lion safari gave distressed look as there were only two lions.

But this time with two new lions here, my kids got very enthusiastic.''

Here because...

Gagan and Heli were brought from Rajkot after sudden deaths of Diya ' the lioness and Pummy ' the tigress in January this year. The new pair is the first pure Asiatic lions in the zoo. Authorities said they will use the pair for breeding purposes in near future.

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