Three-and-a-half year old pure Asiatic lioness was brought in a cage by the Godavari Express from Hyderabad to the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday morning

A lioness sulked in her cage at Indira Gandhi Zoological Park here on Tuesday evening. She refused to eat when the animal keeper threw pieces of meat into the cage. A closer look revealed that the animal had bruises on her body and was under stress.

The big cat was a three-and-a-half year old pure Asiatic lioness, which was brought in a cage by the Godavari Express from Hyderabad on Tuesday morning. It refused to budge from its place even when photographers took pictures. The continuous flash from cameras seemed to have irked the animal, and after some time it growled angrily and walked up and down the cage.

A few feet away, in another cage, an Asiatic lion was seen growling and moving restlessly all the time. This five-year-old lion, Azam, had also been brought from Hyderabad last year. “It’s in heat and has been restless after the arrival of the lioness, which has been brought from Hyderabad under the animal exchange programme, for breeding,” Zoo Curator G. Ramalingam told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The total number of lions in the zoo has gone up to three with the new addition. There is another lioness, a hybrid named Lakshmi, which is in robust health. She came cautiously into her enclosure from the day crawl, perhaps, aware of the new arrival squatting in the cage next to it.

“Our lion enclosure is one of the best in India going by its large extent, gentle slope, landscape and natural surroundings. Lions, unlike tigers which are solitary, live in groups. They need more open area and lot of sunlight and hence the trees in the enclosure have been pruned,” he said. “The life span of lions in the wild is 15 years while in captivity they live up to 20 years. In one litter, a lioness gives birth to one to three cubs normally but occasionally it could give birth to four or five cubs in a single litter. After the new lioness gets acclimatised to its changed environment and its wounds get healed we will arrange for its mating with the Asiatic lion in about a month,” Mr. Ramalingam said. “The new lioness hasn’t eaten anything since this morning. It’s under extreme stress as it sustained bruises during the train journey. We will give diet supplements mixed in water for the next couple of days to hasten its recovery,” Zoo Doctor Srinivas said.

Zoo visitors may see lion cubs by the year-end, if every thing goes as planned.

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