Lucknow zoo unable to provide shelter to rising number of leopards

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Lucknow, Sep.15 : Though recently there has been uproar over decreasing number of tigers and other wild animals due to poaching or other incidents, the authorities at the Lucknow Zoo despite the growing number of leopards are unable to accommodate.

The number of leopards at the zoo has risen to 10 from three in the zoo; one male and two female. And, officials say that the grown up leopards require proper space to move around and the zoo cannot provide that space to them due to its limitations.

"We have been taking care of these leopards for last 28 years. A few of the leopards were born here only during 2001. Now they all have grown up and keep roaming. The panther staying here also gave birth to cubs. But soon they died due to some problems. That's why when the new cubs took birth, we thought of taking good care of them," said Mubarak Singh, one keeper.

Over the past couple of years, many leopards have become the inmates of the zoo. They were rescued from villages where they used to prowl after dusk in search of easy prey -the livestock of the farmers and birds from the poultry coops.

Among the leopards at the Lucknow Zoo is a male rescued in 1991 from Lansdowne in Garhwal region and the other one is a female, rescued from Gonda six years later.

Both the leopards proved to be a major attraction for visitors to the zoo. The couple gave birth to many cubs. The latest birth of a cub was reported on August 27.

"Lucknow Zoo now has a total of 10 leopards which is a good rate. But, unfortunately, we can accommodate only four leopards and two leopards in a hospital. Most of these leopards are rescued animals. Their natural habitat is already in peril and these cats may ultimately land up at the human habitation to either attack other animals or humans," said Renu Singh, Director of Lucknow Zoo.

Faced with the accommodation problem, the zoo has launched the 'Adopt a Leopard' programme with the hope that animal lovers would come forth to meet the feeding and medical.

Although, eleven commercial banks have responded favourably, the zoo authorities are uncertain if in the long term they can solely depend on banks for proper care of the leopards. By Kamna Mathur

ANI

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