Two pairs of Asiatic lions were today shifted to Uttar Pradesh from the Sakkarbag Zoo in Gujarat as part of the animal exchange programme between the zoos. The four lions (two males, two females) were handed over to a 10-member forest team from UP which arrived in the Junagadh zoo, V J Rana Superintendent at Sakkarbag told PTI. Both pairs will be housed in the Lucknow Zoo for the next few days before they are shifted to the breeding centre at the upcoming Lion Safari Park in Etawah early next year, he said. With this new pair, UP has become the abode to three pairs of Asiatic lions. It had procured two pairs of Asiatic lions from Hyderabad and Rajkot zoos in the past.
While a pair is kept in the Lucknow Zoo and the other is housed in the Kanpur Zoo. Meanwhile, the work at Etawah Lion Safari has reached its final stages of completion, Rana said quoting Lion Safari Director Gurmeet Singh. Last month, the plantation of grass and trees to develop the lion habitat was completed. Once the Safari gets developed, the UP government would open the place for tourists, he said. This would be the second-of-its-kind project after Gujarat with world-class facilities for the upkeep of the royal beast. About 150.83 hectare land in Fisher Reserve Forest area on Etawah-Gwalior National Highway was acquired and notified as Lion Safari in 2005 but it was shelved by the Mayawati government in 2007. However, it was revived after Samajwadi Party returned to power in March 2012. The UP government had sanctioned Rs 89 crore for the Lion Safari project which includes facilities like parking, toilet, ticket counter, children park, interpretation center, bus stay, rest-shed, cafeteria, rain shelter and souvenir centre.