The big cats have made it a habit to sneak out of their enclosures in the Guwahati zoo.
A man-eater tigress and her cub had escaped from their cages in the Assam State Zoo on January 30. On Saturday, it was the turn of a sub-adult lioness.
But unlike the last time – the tigresses had a day out amid 3,000 visitors – the lioness barged out of the enclosure after the zoo had shut down for the day at 4:15 pm. The enclosure has seven lions and lionesses.
“This happened around 4:45 pm when attendants were placing meat for the animals’ dinner. Something might have frightened the lioness and she forced her way out through a section of the cage affected by wear and tear,” said zoo DFO Utpal Bora.
He added that a probe would be initiated and responsibilities fixed. “This is a harsh lesson we have learnt.”
More dramatic than the lioness’ escape was its tranquilization. The zoo authorities employed three tame elephants – they are used for safaris and odd-jobs – to recapture the lioness that had run into a forest within the zoo complex.
The zoo here is part of the Hengerabari-Nongkeh Reserve Forest. It was set up hastily in 1957 after a mini zoo brought to provide entertainment during a Congress Mahasabha failed to take the animals back.
“We scouted the forest on elephant back and managed to tranquilize the lioness after an hour of anxiety,” said zoo veterinarian Bijoy Gogoi. The animal was yet to come to its senses at the time of reporting.