Thiruvananthapuram lost two of its big cats within a span of a few hours from late Monday. The animals, a 12-year old Asiatic male lion and 17-year old male tiger, died at the Neyyar Lion Safari Park and the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo respectively.
The tiger, Kiran, was reported to have died around 10.30 p.m. on Monday suspected due to old-age ailments. Having been exhibiting considerable loss of appetite lately, the animal’s food intake decreased considerably during the last week, according to zoo superintendent T.V. Anil Kumar.
Former chief forest veterinary officer E.K. Easwaran, who was part of the team that conducted the post-mortem examination, said the tiger showed signs of suffering from the early stages of pneumonia. Its blood test also revealed bacterial infection. Despite exhibiting no COVID-19 symptom, the team collected nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs. A decision was yet to be taken on sending the specimens for tests.
Almost all the six tigers that remained in the Thiruvananthapuram zoo were of the similar age with a few even being over 20 years old.
Nagaraj, the lion, was found dead close to his cage in the Lion Safari park in Neyyar around 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Like Kiran, the animal also displayed signs of waning appetite.
According to Sandeep Kumar, Assistant Wildlife Warden, Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, the lion has been not returned to its cage for three days despite all attempts made by the animal keepers to lure it. Besides, the animal has been consuming very little food lately.
Both Nagaraj and the park’s other resident, 19-year old Bindu, were being regularly monitored by their veterinarian, with the duo being administered medicines few days ago. Both animals used to be fed 5kg of chicken and buffalo meat for six days a week.
Nagaraj had been brought to Thiruvananthapuram from Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden in Gujarat two years ago. Radha, a six-year old lioness, who had accompanied Nagaraj died soon after arriving at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo. Both had been brought in exchange for two Malabar giant squirrels. Once home to 17 lions, the park’s population to come down to one.
The carcass of both deceased animals, which were protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, were handled in accordance with the prescribed standard operating procedure.