Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

A six-month-old lion cub, Barsha, has got a new life at Nandankanan Zoo in Bhubaneswar by an animal keeper after her mother Bijli couldn’t tend to her. Though her brother- a male cub, perished in the process, Barsha is being nurtured with utmost care by an animal keeper-- Prashant Gouda.

26-year-old Prashant has been everything to Barsha following her birth in July last year. Prashant has been her friend, playmate and above all, parent.

Amid the pandemic, when Bijli refused to look after the two cubs and the male sibling died after a while , the zoo authorities handed over the female cub to Prashant.

“Barsha needed care and attention round the clock and had to be fed milk every two hours. I had to remain alert even during night and feed the cub milk to keep her alive,” recalled Prashant who is now a full time caretaker of Barsha.

Prashant had to constantly monitor the health of Barsha who was very much weak and helpless. The cub needed love, care and attention and Prashant’s previous experience in nurturing lion and bear cubs at the zoo came handy.

“The cub was kept in a temperature controlled room and she had to be fed with special milk in consultation with the Forest and Veterinary department experts. The cub is now six-months-old and is in good health,” said Prashant.

To keep the cub active and physically fit, the zoo authorities released her in a bigger enclosure this month.

“It will keep Barsha acquainted with the new life. A team of experts are constantly monitoring her health and growth. Experience of rearing the lion’s cub will help us in the conservation of big cats in the zoo in an effective manner in future,” said the animal keeper.