Amid lockdown, Assam state zoo welcomes Simba, Sultan and his sister

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Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden in Guwahati has welcomed a lion and two tiger cubs that were born a week apart in May amid the nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were enforced from March 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, but the news has been made public only now after the new-borns were found to be in good spirits.

“The lion cub, a male, was born in early May and the two tiger cubs, a male, and a female, were born a week later,” said Tejas Mariswamy, divisional forest officer (DFO), Assam State Zoo.

“The news of the births was not disclosed, earlier as we wanted to keep a tab on their health parameters before making it public. Now, all three cubs are in good spirits,” he added.

Established in 1957 and spread over 175 hectares in the middle of Guwahati in the Hengrabari reserve forest, Assam state zoo, which has 1,040 wild animals and birds of 112 species, is the biggest zoological park in the north-east region.

“The lion cub, which was born to Vicky and Rani, has been named Simba after the character in the movie Walt Disney musical drama, The Lion King. The tiger cubs were born to Dhanush and Kazi,” said Mariswamy.

“The male tiger cub is named Sultan. However, we are yet to decide on Sultan’s sister’s name. We are looking for a name that children could relate to. All suggestions from the public are welcome,” he added.

Though the zoo is a big attraction among the public in Guwahati and others across the north-east, it has been closed since March due to the viral outbreak.

“We have been kept busy, even though the zoo is off-limits for the public. A male golden langur, a rare species, was also born during the lockdown period,” said Mariswamy.

There is no immediate plan to reopen the zoo anytime soon, despite the fact that lockdown restrictions have been largely eased across the most-populous and Covid-19 worst-hit state in the north-east.

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