The Assam State Zoo-cum Botanical garden has been shut for visitors since March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic but the birth of Simba on June 9 brought the keepers of the zoo back on their toes.
The lion cup was born in the confinement of the Assam State Zoo at Guwahati and is the first Asiatic lion cub in the last 15 years to be born in Assam State Zoo. The zoo keepers and authorities are ecstatic on this achievement.
Simba’s father Vicky was acquired from Hyderabad zoo and his Rani came from the Gujarat zoo under animal exchange programme.
“Simba has been the result of hard work of the keepers. The effort they took to ensure that the cats feel comfortable here. Its birth definitely signifies that animals feel safe and comfortable here. The keepers have developed a liking for the newborn cubs and spend a lot of time interacting with them,” said Tejas Mariswami Divisional Forest Officer, Assam State Zoo-cum_Botanical Garden.
With the birth of Simba, the number of lions in the Assam zoo has increased to three. It is a big step in the conservation of Asiatic lion’s gene pool, Mariswamy said
Playful and adorable, Simba stays close to his mother and is always up to some mischief. He is as inquisitive as the character from the movie ‘Lion King’ that he is named after, and the keepers spend a lot of time interacting with him, Mariswami told News18.
The Assam State Zoo now intends to acquire expertise in the breeding of Asiatic lions. We are in talk with other zoos for temporary exchange of individuals for greeter breeding success with greater genetic diversity, said Mariswami, elaborating the future plans of the state zoo and its captive breeding plans.
Along with the birth of Simba, the state zoo also welcomed two Royal Bengal tiger cubs who were born on June 15. The tiger cubs, born to Kazi and Dhanush, are Simba’s playmates even though they have not met each other till now. “The male tiger cub is named Sultan. However, we are yet to decide on Sultan’s sister’s name. We are looking for a name that children can relate to. All suggestions from public are welcome,” he added.
“The lockdown indeed is a much required break for the animals. Assam State Zoo is quite big and natural, so it has successfully bred tigers even during normal days,” says the Divisonal Forest Officer of the state zoo.
Established in 1957 and spread over 175 hectares in the middle of Guwahati in the Hengrabari reserve forest, the zoo, which has 1,040 wild animals and birds of 112 species, is the biggest zoological park in the north-east region. During the pandemic, it kept working to ensure the visitors get a better experience when they visit the zoo again. Mariswami said walking aviary and African habitat enclosure will also be the highlights of the place.
The zoo is likely to open in the next two months, given the COVID19 situation. I am sure Simba will also be ready to welcome them all by then” said Mariswami.