Published: Tuesday 31 October 2000

The Orissa government's decision to donate 12 tigers and 15 African lions of the Nandankanan zoo to the other states has proved fatal for one of the lions. The lion which was being transported to Visakhapatnam, along with four other lions and five tigers, died on the way. According to Indira Gandhi Zoological Park curator, the lion might have died due to ill health or travel fatigue. Full details would be available after conducting a postmortem, he added. The decision to shift the animals came in the wake of the recent mass death of tigers at the Nandankanan zoo ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 8).

Villagers living near the periphery of the zoo had protested against the shifting of the animals. Suresh Kumar Routray, a Congress politician, had stated that there was no guarantee that the tigers would not die in other zoos of the country. "Instead of streamlining its management practises, the decision to shift the tigers sounds hollow because the animals will be subjected to more stress during the change over process," Routray said. "The tigers, especially the white tigers, are the pride of Orissa and instead of ensuring better upkeep, improved facilities and expansion of the zoo, the state chief minister has taken the easy way out," Routray added.

Though the move is said to be aimed at reducing the pressure on the zoo, sources maintain that the zoo authorities are unwilling to take any more risks regarding the tigers.

T R Baalu, Union minister for environment, has given a clean chit to the Orissa government and the zoo authorities over the Nandankanan tragedy. Baalu said that as a precautionary measure, there would not be any further inbreeding in the zoo. He further stated that the Union government had allocated Rs one crore for the development of the zoo and sought everybody's cooperation to bring the zoo back to normal.

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