CHENNAI: Less than a week after they were born, one of the three lion
cubs at the Vandalur zoo died on Monday. Close circuit television
(CCTV) visuals and the postmortem report show that the cub died when
its mother, nine-year old Kavitha, tried to shift it, injuring the
cub’s windpipe with a canine tooth. “When there was no response from
the cub, the disturbed mother tried to shift it by using her canine
teeth. This might have injured the newborn,” said zoo sources.

The two cubs, abandoned by Kavitha, were shifted out of the enclosure.
The cubs were born on June 30 to Kavitha and her companion, Rahul,
another nine-year-old lion.

Fearing that Kavitha might pose a threat to the other cubs after she
refused to give them milk, zoo officials rushed to the enclosure
inside the lion safari and rescued the two surviving cubs. They have
been kept at the veterinary clinic in the zoo.

A CCTV camera fitted inside the enclosure to track the movements of
the lioness and her cubs helped the zoo officials rescue the remaining
two cubs. The cubs, each weighing about a kilogram, are given special
care with zoo veterinarians including Dr R Thirumurugan and biologist
Dr Manimozhi, making periodic checks. “The two cubs are healthy. They
would be hand reared,” zoo director KSSVP Reddy, who is also the chief
conservator of forests, told TOI.

This is the second time Kavitha is abandoning her cubs in five months.
Less than a week after Kavitha gave birth to two cubs earlier this
year, she abandoned a cub after another cub died inside the enclosure.
Wildlife experts said lions and tigers make sounds to pass
instructions to the cubs. Asthecubwas not active and was always found
in a corner of the enclosure, it did not respond to Kavitha’s calls.

Monday’s death of a lion cub is the third such incident in less than a year.…