Zoo phasing out hybrid lion species after failed e|Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|09/20/06 at 23:02:55|richard_f|xx|0||
Zoo phasing out hybrid lion species after failed experiment
New Delhi, Sept. 17(AP): Authorities said they were allowing 24 hybrid lions to die off after a decades-old crossbreeding experiment at a northern Indian zoo produced only weak offspring, many of whom have already died, a conservator said on Sunday.

Most of the surviving lions and lionesses, aged 12 years or older, are only expected to live for another five to six years, Kuldip Kumar, a Conservator at the Forest and Wildlife Department of Punjab.

It was hoped that the hybrid beasts could be introduced into the wild in an effort to bolster the endangered wild lion population in India.

After it became evident that the experiment dating from the 1980s to crossbreed Asian and African varieties of lions had failed, the Indian government decided against continuing the project.

Of the about 80 animals bred under the programme at the Chhatbir Zoo in the northern city of Chandigarh, up to 30 of them died in 1999 and 2000 due to a mysterious illness, Kumar said, adding that it could have resulted from ``excessive inbreeding or because of mixed stock.''

Several others have died of natural causes, he said.

These animals were produced by breeding captive Asiatic lions and African circus animals, he said.

``From a wildlife conservation point of view, the mixed stock don't have any value,'' he said.

The zoo has 10 lions and 14 lionesses remaining, and those appear to be healthy, Kumar told The Associated Press.

The last lion census conducted in the Gir forests in western India in 2000 put the number of Asiatic lions at 320. However, the animals' numbers are dwindling due to poaching.

Lions in the Gir forest are poached for their pelts and claws, both of which command a huge price in the illegal wildlife trade.

__._,_.___ || Re: Zoo phasing out hybrid lion species after fail|Bullseye|mandsw1@btinternet.com|09/21/06 at 23:16:15|Michael_Watson|xx|0||F1 hybrids often have more vigour than either parent,unfortunately they often have much less than either parent,sounds like the the case with these poor buggers. :(. Amatuer bloody zoologists,this is really basic stuff !!!,surely they should have known better?what was the point of crossing African with Asian ?. >:(||