The old have nowhere to go and this seems to be applicable to animals as well. The Van Vihar national park management in Bhopal has refused to accept the pair of Asiatic lions it was offered by the Junagadh zoo on the grounds that they are very old.
The transfer, agreed upon by the Junagadh zoo in Gujarat and the MP forest department, was expected to be the first such transfer of Asiatic lions from Gujarat to MP, even as Gujarat continues to stall the transfer of Asiatic lions from Gir sanctuary to Palpur Kuno in MP, as part of the plan to create a second home for the big cats.
Sources in the forest department said that a team from Van Vihar national park visited the Junagadh zoo on December 14 to see the pair of lions they had been promised. On reaching Junagadh zoo, the team was aghast to find that the male lion offered was about 15 years old, while the lioness was about 12 years old. “Both animals were unfit. In fact, the male could not even stand up and had a defective eye,” said a forest official in Bhopal.
An average lion lives up to 14 years in natural habitat, but in protected environment the animal can live up to 20 years.
Sources said the forest department would now write to the Junagadh zoo to choose another pair of lions for the transfer, failing which the transfer would be called off.