Cubs in close encounter with cobra

The cobra's out of the bag. The deadly secret that Tata Steel Zoological Park, Jamshedpur, held on to for a month and a half has slithered out into the open.

The African lion cub quintet at Tata Steel Zoological Park was attacked by a cobra on December 2, N.K. Singh, a snake catcher, told The Telegraph on Thursday.

The cubs, gifts from the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, were flown from Pretoria to Calcutta via Singapore. The quintet had a hearty lunch of chicken and lamb at the Calcutta airport before setting off for Jamshedpur.

Singh said he was summoned to the Tata zoo on the day of the attack and that three cubs had suffered injuries before the quintet killed the seven-feet-long white cobra, possibly one of the rare Indo-Chinese species.

Zoo director Bipul Chakravarty, however, said a caretaker spotted the white cobra and removed it before it could come into contact with any of the cubs.

Going by the snake catcher's version, the deadly snake had sneaked into the dry moat inside the lion enclosure. On spying the hissing visitor in the moat's rocks, the wild instincts of the cubs ' Zoya, Salya, Kimu, Ed and Jumbo ' took over as they indulged in a cat-and-mouse game.

The enraged cobra attacked Zoya, Salya and Ed before being struck down by the cubs. Injury marks were spotted on the jaws and paws of three cubs.

Singh, whose help was sought by the zoo authorities, said: "The cubs were lucky to survive the white cobra attack. When I reached the zoo, I found the snake dead. The lion cubs had killed it. Kimu and Jumbo were left untouched, while Zoya, Salya and Ed had injuries."

He added that the cubs survived as the cobra's fangs had not pierced the skin. "The venom had not entered the bloodstream of the cubs, though they were shaken," he said.

Zoo officials isolated Zoya, Salya and Ed to administer antibiotics, Singh added. He also said he had taught zoo caretakers what to do and what not to in case of snakebite.

The Tata zoo management kept the incident under wraps. The zoo authorities would have faced serious flak from National Zoological Garden in Pretoria, South Africa, from where the quintet came last June.

The Central Zoo Authority, India's apex body, would have pulled up the zoo authorities in Jamsehdpur.

Moreover, its plans to procure exotic animals from abroad would have been grounded for good.

Chakravarty, however, played down the incident. "The cobra had entered the enclosure but caretakers removed the snake without wasting a minute. One of the caretakers had spotted the snake and raised the alarm. A snake entering an animal enclosure is not a new thing. It happens in zoos in India and abroad and big cats generally survive snake attacks," he claimed.

Animal experts said cubs often succumb to venom, while adult lions, tigers and leopards recover after some time.

As they say, cats have nine lives. But a warning has been hissed ' the Tata zoo authorities can't afford to be complacent.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »