Mumbai: Lions to be main attraction in Byculla zoo again after 7 years

Updated: May 31, 2019, 07:50 IST | Arita Sarkar |

BMC says the animals are expected to arrive from Gujarat in the next 15 days

Representation picture
Representation picture

Seven years after visitors to Byculla zoo saw its last lion, Jimmy, two of the big cats will be brought in from Gujarat to fill the void. The transfer process of the lions is almost over; the civic body is awaiting the Central Zoo Authority's permission to bring the lions.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said the lions are expected to be brought to the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo in the next 15 days. It had received the Gujarat government's approval for the transfer in March, but the model code of conduct for the general elections had halted the further process, said officials.

"We have sent the proposal to the CZA for their approval and it is in the last stages. If all goes as planned, then the lions should be sent from Junagadh zoo in the next 15 days," said a senior BMC official.

The work on the lions' enclosure spread across 23,000 square feet at the city zoo is complete, said another BMC official. "The work on the enclosure was completed 15 days ago. It includes a feeding area, a holding area and a viewing gallery with a glass front," he added.

When the lions are here, they will be kept in the quarantine area for a month and then shifted to their enclosure, said the official. The lions' enclosure at the Byculla zoo is second largest after tigers', which is 25,000 square feet.

The zoos in the country practice a barter system for the transfer of animals, and when BMC requested the Sakkarbaug Zoological Garden in Junagadh to send two lions, the latter sought giraffes in exchange. However, Byculla zoo does not have many animals left for a swap. Hence, then BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta wrote to Gujarat chief secretary JN Singh requesting to pardon the barter system this one time.

Bringing more animals here is part of the BMC's efforts to renovate the zoo which has been in a deplorable condition for a long time. The Byculla zoo lost it last big cat in 2014. Jimmy, the African-Asiatic hybrid born at the zoo in March 1998, died on December 8, 2014.

25k sqft
The lions' enclosure at the Byculla zoo

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