A barely one-week-old lion cub in the City Zoo died after it was accidentally injured by its mother on Sunday. The lioness had unintentionally dug its teeth deep into the cub’s neck while trying to lift it by its scruff, said Director of Department of Museums and Zoos B Joseph.
Subsequently, fatal wounds in the skin, muscle and nerves had left the cub moribund, according to zoo authorities.
The lioness Aiswarya had given birth to the cub on April 6, taking the zoo authorities, who had not known she was pregnant, by surprise.
Just a few days ago, the mother and newborn had been frolicking in the open enclosure, officials said. But unable to stand the noisy crowd and shutterbugs, the lioness had turned aggressive. When it clasped the cub’s scruff to lift it, the zoo authorities had feared that it might kill the baby. For, mothers in the cat family, when disturbed, can turn highly unpredictable. Despite this incident, the two were not separated, as this could lead to the mother rejecting its own baby. The mother and baby were quarantined in the lion shelter.
A zoo official said that unlike other cubs, this one was very heavy. Being a single child, the cub would drink all of its mother’s milk. Since it weighed around 1.6 kilograms, there was a good chance of its skin tearing off by sheer weight, he said. The incident had happened around 10 am on Sunday.
When it was brought to the city hospital, the cub’s chances of survival had been meagre, the official said.
He added that the veterinarian and team had immediately set to arrest its bleeding. The injured cub was administered intravenous fluids and fed with milk, and care was taken to keep it warm. Hope soared when it drank the milk. However, by 6 pm it succumbed to its injuries. The one-week-old was yet to be named.
There are many instances of lions killing their own children. This tragedy, however, happened because of the mother’s carelessness, said the official. Except for slight restlessness, the mother is fine now, he added.