The Lucknow zoo received two ‘royal guests’ on Sunday evening. Two Asiatic lion cubs - ‘Kuber’, an 18-month-old male and ‘Heer’, a five-monthold female - were brought to the zoo from the Rajkot zoological park in Gujarat.
A team from Lucknow had gone to Gujarat on April 2 to bring the animals from there. The Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica) is a lion sub-species that exists in Gujarat and is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“They (lions) reached here at around 6 pm. Though both of them are healthy, they looked tired after travelling a long distance,” said Renu Singh, zoo director. Both have been kept in the Balrampur house on the zoo campus.
Four Asiatic Lions figure on India’s National Emblem - symbolising power, courage, pride, and confidence. The species is the second largest Big Cat in the world, after the ferocious tiger. A full-grown male tiger grows to a length of 1.7 m to 2.5 m. The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, but rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly.
A diet chart has come along with the two lions of pure bloodline and the same will be followed for the next few days. “They will not be put on public display for a few days till they adjust with the new environment,” said Renu Singh.
The Lucknow Zoo had been trying since long to get a pair of Asiatic Lions for the state under the animal exchange programme. The Central Zoo Authority had given consent to the exchange of animals between Lucknow and Rajkot zoos under which Rajkot will also get animals from Lucknow.
With a Lion safari coming up near Etawah, these lions might be shifted there. But for now they are a part of the Lucknow Zoo and can be seen by visitors in a few days time. On Saturday, two Asiatic Lions were also brought to the Kanpur Zoo from Hyderabad. And with two in Lucknow, the total number of Asiatic Lions in Uttar Pradesh is now four.