Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hand-fed Asiatic lion cub is healthy

Hand-fed Asiatic lion cub is healthy
Times of India

Mysore zoo, which suffered heavy casualties of animals in captivity since April this year, successfully revived an Asiatic lion cub which was abandoned soon after its birth in July. The cub is now three-and-a-half months old.

When Gowri and Shankara failed to care for their little one, it fell to the Mysore zoo staff to hand-rear it. At first, it appeared the lion and lioness were getting on with the job of rearing their first offspring in captivity, but two days later, they abandoned the cub. Lion cubs are usually rejected by the mother.

Worried zoo authorities went that extra mile to protect the cub and feed it, guided by experts from Gujarat. It's rare for a hand-fed lion cub to survive, and techniques adopted by the zoo are bound to turn into an example for other zoos where animals are bred in captivity.

Zoo Authority of Karnataka chairman M Nanjundaswamy told TOI the cub is healthy and has been started on solid food too. "We're giving it chicken and soup to improve its resistance to infections. Though cubs develop great resistance power when they are weaned by parents, we are trying our best to improve the cub's resistance," he said.

The cub has slowly started displaying its instincts, which is a good indication. It's getting special attention, and is being monitored round the clock at the zoo hospital, Nanjundaswamy said.

"The temperature in the holding room at the hospital is kept steady. The cub's intake of solid food and cow's milk has increased. But the zoo has to decide to continue with hand feeding. Its gender is yet to be known," a staffer said.

"Gowri may have abandoned it as it is her first cub. It's natural for lions to reject their cubs soon after birth even in the wild," Nanjundaswamy explained.

It was because of former cricketer Anil Kumble's intervention that the Gujarat authorities spared a pair of Asiatic lions for Mysore zoo, which is the only zoo in Karnataka to have this species. Gowri, 5, and Shankara, 6, arrived from Sakkarbaug Zoo of Gujarat last year.


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