Eight lions from Gujarat will soon be shifted to a zoo in Uttar Pradesh as part of an animal exchange programme, a forest official said on Tuesday. These lions are currently lodged at Sakkarbaug Zoo in Gujarat's Junagadh.
"As part of the animal exchange programme, two lions and six lionesses from Sakkarbaug will be shifted to a zoo at Gorakhpur in UP. The Central Zoo Authority has allowed the transfer of eight big cats," Junagadh wildlife circle's chief conservator of forests Dushyant Vasavada said.
However, it was not yet decided as to which animal will be transferred from Gorakhpur to Gujarat under the exchange pact, he said.
"We are ready for the transfer. Now, it is for the Gorakhpur zoo to decide on the time," Mr Vasavada said.
He said after governments of the two states agreed for the shifting of the lions, a proposal was sent to the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) which recently gave its approval for it.
Sakkarbaug zoo is said to be the second oldest in the country. It is the nodal centre for providing Asiatic lions to other zoos and safaris in the state and the country. The CZA permits exchange between zoos after checking whether the host has proper health facilities and enclosures for the animals.
The Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat is the last abode of Asiatic lions in the world. As per the last census in 2015, there were around 523 lions in the state, mainly in the forest areas of Junagadh, Gir-Somnath, Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.