One of the most important lion breeding programs in Europe was put on hold after an outbreak of tuberculosis hit a British zoo.
Five-year-old Asiatic lioness Maliya was given contraceptive implants in the wake of antelopes testing positive for TB last year.
Over ten antelopes were culled in September 2017, and the discovery led to restrictions on movement being placed on other creatures at Paignton Zoo, Devon.
Five-year-old Asiatic lioness Maliya was given the contraceptive in the wake of antelopes testing positive for tuberculosis last year
Maliya and her mate, Lucifer, 15, are considered the most important breeding pair in Europe.
The duo of rare Asiatic lions produced two cubs, a daughter Arya, and son Yali, in June 2016. Maliya’s 14-year-old mother, Indu, also has an implant.
Executive Director Simon Tonge said: ‘Even a single positive case of TB leads to movement restrictions on mammals.
The big cat is part of international efforts to conserve the endangered Asiatic lion species
‘This prevents us from being able to move young mammals on to other collections. Hence the need to curtail breeding.
‘There are lots of fit and healthy breeding animals here, representatives of rare and endangered species, many of which, like the Asiatic lions, are part of international efforts to conserve their species. In fact,
‘Maliya and Lucifer are the second most important breeding pair in Europe.
Vets at Paignton Zoo, Devon, administered general anaesthetic before a quick operation was performed to insert the contraceptive implant under her skin
‘It’s frustrating, but we have to manage them responsibly until we can resolve the situation. We only have so much space.’
Senior head keeper of mammals Rob Rouse said: ‘Even though the European Endangered species Programme for Asiatic lions is keen for these animals to continue breeding, we need to be responsible about managing the space we have so we don’t run out of room.
Asiatic lioness Maliya with her two cubs, a daughter Arya, and son Yali, in their enclosure
‘We need to keep our animals to the highest standards at all times.’
Maliya’s was given a general anaesthetic, before a quick operation was performed to insert the contraceptive implant under her skin.
It was carried out by the zoo’s in-house vet team in the off-show lion den.