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Mumbai: Next in line are two pairs of Gujarat lions who'll arrive in July

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, if all goes as per plans, the captive lions from the Sakkarbaug Zoo at Junagadh in Gujarat would be brought to the city in July.

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Mumbai: Next in line are two pairs of Gujarat lions who'll arrive in July
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After a long wait, the path for bringing two pairs of lions to Veermata Jijabai Bhosale (VJB) Udyan and Zoo at Byculla seems to have been finally cleared. According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, if all goes as per plans, the captive lions from the Sakkarbaug Zoo at Junagadh in Gujarat would be brought to the city in July.

On Tuesday, in a function organised at Sasan Gir in Junagadh, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani handed over the certificate formalising transfer to representatives of different states to whom Gujarat is sending its captive lions. Incidentally, the Byculla zoo was represented by Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Anwar Ahmed who is the Director of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

"I have accepted the transfer certificates on behalf of Byculla zoo for two pair of lions on their request," confirmed Ahmed adding that he had also met several officials from Gujarat and requested them to expedite the process.

Meanwhile, a senior Byculla zoo official explained that early this month, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in its meeting had cleared the proposal sent by Mumbai zoo for exchange of lions, while the function on Tuesday cleared all official procedures.

"Once basic formalities, including some paperwork, is complete, our team, which includes a veterinarian and a few animal keepers, will travel to Sakkarbaug zoo to bring them to Mumbai. We expect that the lions will be brought in early July as rains are considered a good time for sifting animals as the weather is cooler," said the official adding that these will be kept in the quarantine facility for at least two months before being released in their 2000 square meter enclosure.

On April 28, the Mumbai zoo had brought a pair of leopards and jackals from Pilikula zoo in Mangaluru and a sloth bear and a pair of jackals from Surat zoo. At present, these animals have been kept in quarantine and are expected to be released in their enclosure by July-end.

Meanwhile work on enclosures of hyenas, lions, the small cat complex, Madras pond turtles, blackbucks, swamp deers and two bird aviaries is being carried out on war footing. Also, all the proposed 17 enclosures will be ready for public viewing by January 2020.

With the death of two lioness — Anita in 2010 and Jimmy 2014 — there are no lions in the zoo.

Extravaganza At Byculla Zoo

In Numbers

  • 3,000 trees
  • 300 species

Current Zoo mates

  • Zoo Till 2005: Home to at least three species of large cats including two white tigers, five leopards and three lions. 
  • 2005: Zoo lost both its tigers and five leopards due old age.
  • 2010: Anita the famous lioness died
  • 2014: Jimmy the hybrid lioness born from a cross between an African lion and Indian lioness died and was the last the big cat.

Soon-to-be roomies

  • Phase I: Jackal, Hynea, Leopard, Otters, Small cat complex, Wolf, Sloth bear, Madras pond turtle, Bird avairy I, Reptile house
  • Phase II: Lion, Tiger, Swamp deer, Nilgai, Four horned Antelope, Sambhar, Barking deer, Spotted deer, black bucks, Bird aviary II
  • Zoo facts: Was originally called Victoria gardens hence still referred to as Rani baugh.   Was earmarked as a botanical garden and was later converted to a zoo
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