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Monday, August 19, 2013

a barking lion......... or the dog in lions skin... !!!

Animals in their habitat are pleasure to watch… even in zoos they provide good entertainment. Here is a great photo of lions ~ courtesy National Geographic magazine…

There are some animals of which there is lurking fear that they would become extinct soon – ‘endangered species’… some reasons are : habitat loss, pollution, introduction of other species, and overexploitation. Facing extinction are: one-third of amphibians, nearly half of all freshwater turtles, one in eight birds, and one in four mammals, as well as more than 8,000 plant and algae species.

Lion is considered very majestic. The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg (550 lb) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia ~ India is proud to have them at Gir Forest

Unconnected to this post is the recent Supreme Court decision which ruled that Gujarat has to part with some lions to be shifted to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary~ this should not have been construed as a battle between States but on the  ‘species best interest standard’. Whether capture, transit and relocation could be stressful and whether such animals would adjust to the new settlement are all under debate though !

Lion in a jungle is fearsome….. certainly not a caged lion… somehow it appears to be one sans pride… still one feels lot happier seeing wild animals especially the Lions and Tigers. Old timers would vouch that the zoo in Madras was once housed in Madras Corporation park near Central railway station presented palpable picture of lions and other animals…… now at Vandalur, the Zoo has healthy animals – many in moated enclosures and not in the cages…  understand that Zoo in Madras was  first housed in the Museum premises and then moved to Madras Corporation people’s park near Central railway station in 1861 ~ and moved to the present spacious premises at Vandalur in 1985.

From Lion to the dogs… the Tibetan Mastiff  is an ancient breed and type of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) originating with nomadic cultures of Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tibet and Central Asia. The Tibetan Mastiff also known as dok-khyi ( translated as "dok-nomad, khi-dog", "door guard", "dog which may be tied", "dog which may be kept"), reflects its use as a guardian of herds, flocks, tents, villages, monasteries, and palaces.

Heard of a ‘barking lion’ ? ~ the one in a zoo in Hinan province in China is making more news…  BBC and other agencies report that the sign at the cage read "feizhou shi" (African lion) and visitors have been flocking to see it and various other animals, but it was not one to be …. Certainly not a lion.  It was ‘a Tibetan mastiff’ in that cage…….  Chinese media reports said the zoo had replaced its genuine lion with a Tibetan mastiff dog. A zoo official in Henan province said the dog - owned by one of the workers - was put in the cage when the real lion was sent away to a breeding centre. Outraged visitors to the zoo in Louhe city state that they have been cheated.

According to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily, the fraud came to light when a mother visited the zoo, in a park in the city of Louhe, to show her son the sounds different animals made. When they got to the cage marked "African lion" - which had a sign describing the range and characteristics of the animal - they were shocked to hear the creature bark. It was then that zoo keepers revealed the so-called lion was actually a Tibetan mastiff, an animal that can have a furry brown coat, making it look a little like a lion.

It was not a misnomer ~ not the story of a dog with the ‘lion’s skin’ ~ some other species were also apparently mislabelled; there reportedly was a white fox in a leopard's den and another dog being passed off as a wolf. The zoo is reportedly run by private contractors. While the Chinese government stopped giving zoo contracts to private companies in 2010, the one for Luohe zoo has not expired yet. The zoo earns 100,000 yuan ($16, 360 dollars) a year. Yu Hua, head of the People's Park where the park is located is quoted as saying that the signs in front of the animals’ enclosures will be “promptly corrected.”

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Aug 2013.

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