Thursday, September 21, 2006

Slow death agony for lions after failed breeding program

Zookeepers in north India are watching mournfully as nearly two dozen lions slowly die after a breeding program left many cats sick, a wildlife official said today.

The program, which began in the late 1980s at the Chhatbir Zoo, tried to crossbreed Asiatic and African lions.

It was discontinued in 2002 after many of the nearly 80 lions bred were struck by a mysterious disease aggravated by inbreeding and a weakened gene pool, said Kuldip Kumar, Punjab state's conservator of forests and wildlife.

It will take about six years for the remaining 22 lions bred through the program to die of natural causes, he said.

There's a very sad gallery of photos here.

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