On November 16, lioness D-9 had delivered five cubs in the zoo.
Lioness D22 of Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh delivered five cubs on Wednesday and forest staff said the mother and cubs were healthy. D22 is the second lioness to have a litter of five cubs in Sakkarbaug Zoo in about a week’s time. Litter of five cubs is considered rare among Gir lions.
“Five cubs were born at Sakkarbaug Zoo to mother D22 and lion Ankolvadi. The zoo team is closely monitoring the cubs and the mother,” said Dushyant Vasavada, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle. On November 16, lioness D-9 had delivered five cubs in the zoo.
Deputy conservator of forests (DCF), Abhishek Kumar, who is also the director of Sakkarbaug Zoo, said that D22 conceived and delivered the cubs in a natural way.
“The litter of five cubs is not common but we believe it could be a result of prolonged mating that we are facilitating in the zoo,” said the director.
Kumar added that a mating pair remains in isolation for about a week. “D22 is around four years old and this is her third litter. In her previous two litters, she delivered three cubs each. The male lion, Ankolvadi, is approximately seven years old,” said the director.
Sakkarbaug Zoo is also the co-ordinating zoo for conservation breeding of Asiatic lions programme. It is home to purebred Gir lions and also oversees Gir lion gene pool centres set up in Rampara Wildlife Sanctuary near Wankaner town in Morbi district and Barda Wildlife Sanctuary in Porbandar.
“Total 67 cubs have been born in the zoo in the last two years. Last year, 32 births were recorded while this year, the number has gone up to 35,” said Kumar.
Adding that the zoo staff were monitoring the mother and cubs well, he said, “The first seven days are critical for lion cubs when their eyes remain closed and mortality rates also remain high… The cubs delivered by D9 are past that stage and are doing fine.”
Sakkarbaug zoo also runs a programme of conservation breeding of grey wolf species and a female wolf delivered five pups on November 18.
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