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Now, lions find an old-age home

Now, lions find an old-age home

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 03:29 IST

In the first of its kind in the country, the Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park at Chhatbir, 20 km from Chandigarh, has come up with a geriatric home —for its aging lions.

The "off-display" facility houses animals above 15 years of age who can't cope with the boisterous younger animals in the regular enclosures, as also the stress of being constantly on show. Visitors are generally not allowed into the retirement home.

"The separate off-display facility for the old and infirm animals was needed as they can't compete with the other animals in the display enclosures and are stressed by visitors," Conservator of Forests Kuldeep Kumar said. "Besides, visitors, too, don't want to see an obviously frail animal."

The separate enclosure ensures focused care, proper feeding and proper housing of the sick animals, said Veterinary Officer of the zoo Dr Nirmaljit Singh.

The retirement home, constructed at a cost of Rs 12 lakh as part of the Lion Safari Extension project, so far houses three lions and can accommodate two more. "We have plans to expand the facility to accommodate at least five more," Kumar said.

Chhatbir has a rapidly ageing lion population, all Afro-Asiatic hybrids. The average age of the 22 lions here is 13 years. Their life expectancy is between 18 and 20 years. Earlier, it was in the eye of a conservation controversy when it was revealed that the big cats Chhatbir cross-bred were extremely vulnerable to disease and risked contaminating the blood line of zoo lions.

First Published: Jun 10, 2006 03:29 IST