Paralysed lioness escape from Hyderabad Zoo, hurt animal keeper

HYDERABAD: An eight-year-old African lioness, Sirisha, on Monday attacked an animal keeper at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad after it escaped the night house where the animal was kept for treatment for hind-limb paralysis.

The assistant animal keeper, Syed Hussain, suffered some scratches, and has been treated at the Osmania General Hospital. He is recuperating at his home, zoo officials said.

The lioness not only managed to escape from its night house in an off-display area after pushing open a door that was to have been locked, but also managed to make its way to around some 70 metres reaching a moat for crocodiles before it was tranquillised by the zoo’s veterinary staff.

The lioness was showing improvement for its treatment, a zoo official said, adding, “It can take a few steps and then takes a break sitting down.”

Had the lioness been able to move normally, the outcome of the incident could have been very different.

A press release from the zoo on Tuesday accused Hussain of being negligent while closing the doors of the night-house after the lioness was moved from one section of the facility to another to clean the section of the enclosure the animal was in.

As Hussain ran out screaming, other zoo staff rushed to the scene and then informed senior officials about the incident. The zoo veterinary staff, armed with a tranquilliser gun, managed to dart the lioness resting in some bushes near the crocodile moat. The lioness was taken to a summer house area of the zoo where it is now lodged.

Zoo curator Sunil Hiremath said a committee of enquiry has been set up to investigate the incident and submit its report. Preliminary information indicated that Hussain was careless in following safety measures, and acted irresponsibly. The zoo will implement a fresh training programme for all its staff and officers to prevent such incidents from recurring, Hiremath said.

This was not the first time that an animal in Hyderabad’s zoo had escaped, resulting in chaos.

It was only last October that the Nehru zoo saw one of its elephant keepers – Mohammad Shaibaz – killed by an elephant.

The most serious being the escape of Kadamba, a tigress, in September 2015.

“With the tigress on the loose and with a large number of visitors in the zoo, the police was called in to ensure safe evacuation of all the people. The situation was serious enough that the police imposed Section 144 in the area and only after a day-long operation was the tigress caught and returned to its enclosure,” a forest department official said.

Some of the other animals escaped included one in 2019 by Suzy, a chimpanzee and a popular inmate of the zoo which passed away a year later. Another escape involved a Malayan Sun Bear in 2022, and a Sloth Bear in 2015, both of which were captured soon after and returned to their enclosures.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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