Nandankanan Zoo authorities making all effort to capture the animal

A lioness slipped out of an enclosure in the Nandankanan Zoo, triggering panic among visitors here on Tuesday.

The lioness – Supriya – was still out in the open as the zoo authorities' day-long effort to capture it proved futile. The operation to catch it would resume on Wednesday morning. However, the comforting news is that zoo personnel have cornered the lioness in a 10,000 sq. metre marshy area. Watchers have been deployed to monitor its movement.

In what could be touted as the biggest-ever capture operation launched by the zoo authorities, more than 50 personnel and an elephant were engaged to drive out the lioness from the bushy area inside the 900-acre zoo.

Tranquilliser darts were fired at the lioness thrice, but they missed the target. The 10-year-old Supriya continued to dodge the zoo personnel throughout the day. Even deployment of an elephant did not help the cause.

“We were engaged in trapping the lioness since Tuesday morning. But the adverse weather condition made our job very difficult,” said Siba Narayan Mohapatra, Deputy Director of Nanandankanan Zoo.

Mr. Mohapatra said: “Since the lioness hid in the bushy area we could not get a clear vision. Due to heavy rain, visibility required to fire the dart was not there. Actually, an opportunity was there to tranquillise the animal, but she charged towards our team members foiling the attempt.”

The authorities said there was no chance that the lioness could scale the boundary wall and stray into the city. There is hardly 500 metres between the area where Supriya is wandering and a densely populated area.

Sources in the zoo said usually no food was served to captive animals on Mondays. Probably, the lioness chased a parrot and pulled up a portion of enclosure 29 (B) of the zoo, the deputy director said.

When the escape of the lioness was detected, about 1,000 visitors were already on the premises. Visitors were packed into buses and taken outside the main gate.

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