During our childhood, we regularly went to Mysore from Bangalore. We would usually stay at the Mysore Sports Club, where the early morning roars of the lions and trumpeting of the elephants of the Mysore Zoo, would wake us up. The visit to the zoo was the highlight of every trip, and sometimes we would go more than once.
Sometime in 1975 probably, the zoo had three Asiatic Lion cubs (Panthera leo persica) and they had been left to roam in the open, with light chains. Everyone was very excited to see them so close up. I think I had to hold my little brother to stop him from running to play with the cats.
August 10 is observed as World Lion Day, to spread awareness and educate people about lions and their conservation. The lion is listed as “vulnerable” on the ICUN Red List. Human encroachment has resulted in loss of habit, disease and decrease in prey, causing the number of lions to decline.
The only lions I have seen have been in zoos. None in the wild, because I haven’t been able to visit a place where they can be seen roaming freely. It is estimated that there are only about 23,000 African Lions and about 600 Asiatic Lions in the wild. All the Asiatic Lions are found in the Gir Forest in India.
There is much debate about whether zoos, where animals are restricted, are a good idea, but I do feel they’re a safe place for animals that for any reason, wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild. They’re also a good place for conservation.
Lions are said to live for 8-15 years, so the cubs we saw as children are definitely not around. There were no lions in Mysore Zoo for some years, but currently there 3 lions. See a recent video below.