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One zoo lioness dies

AARTI, AN 18-year-old-lioness, died after protracted illness at the Kamla Nehru Zoo on Monday morning. The lioness, who had become a pale shadow of her former majestic self, was found dead in her cage by zookeepers.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 16:02 IST

AARTI, AN 18-year-old-lioness, died after protracted illness at the Kamla Nehru Zoo on Monday morning. The lioness, who had become a pale shadow of her former majestic self, was found dead in her cage by zookeepers.

The viscera has been collected and the body sent for post mortem. Preliminary investigations revealed cirrhosis of the liver and extensive damage to the lungs, intestines and heart as the cause of Aarti’s death, who had reached the human equivalent of 90 years of age.

With the death the zoo’s leonine population has dwindled to two elderly residents, Akbar, 18, and Rani who is a year junior. Neither of them have been keeping very well and Rani, especially, is unlikely to last through the year, say officials.

According to Zoo veterinarian Dr Devendra Porwal, Aarti had been in very bad physical shape and may have died quite a while ago had extensive precautions not been taken. “She had three near-escapes within the last four years.

Old age had caused considerable damage to the lioness’ body. She was completely blinded by cataract in one eye and was partially deaf.

For the last two years she had completely lost strength in her back limbs making movement difficult.” Porwal says zoo authorities fed her nervine stimulants and put her on an extensive multi-vitamin diet to strengthen her.

Had these steps not been taken Aarti would have died much earlier, believes the vet. “Within the last year alone we had her examined thrice by experts from the Mhow Veterinary College and this probably helped extend her life by a few moths,” he pointed out.

Big cats generally have a lifespan of 12-15 years in free living but normally live up to15-18 years in captivity as they are cosseted from the elements and get food regularly, a rarity for an old lion in the wild.

First Published: Jan 31, 2006 16:02 IST