The Forgotten Zoo
The most important and interesting births this year 1947 were the four lion cubs born to Singh and Topsy, our two very handsome lions. The cubs were born in September. This gave us a very serious housing problem, and the three cubs born from the same parents in November 1947 had to be removed to a cage which was barely suitable for young growing lions. We were fortunate in being able to sell these young lions to other zoos.
We were faced with a very thorny problem with the arrival of the cubs in September, as there was no shelter for the lion, Singh. He is a particularly aggressive lion and it seemed dangerous to allow him to remain with the cubs. However, there was nothing we could do except to take a chance and leave the lion family together. Singh behaved admirably with his family and now we have a feature of which any zoo would be proud – the complete lion family. Two of the cubs died shortly after they were born. The remaining two are doing very well, and there is reason to feel confident that the lion family will live peacefully.
We had our usual lion cubs from Singh and Topsy but, this time, we were not fortunate enough in rearing them.
We have retained a most attractive lion cub from the ones bred in the park. His name is Dalta, a son of Singh and Topsy. Singh, our veteran lion, is getting old. So is Topsy. But in Dalta we can look for the splendid strain being preserved. Members will regard this grand old pair of lions with affection. They were our main exhibits when we opened the zoo.
We had a number of births, notably lion cubs. We have managed to rear four, two from our grand old pair, Singh and Topsy, and two from our young pair of lions, Rory and Shelagh [the Dublin cubs].
On Christmas Day we suffered a very sad loss by the death of the old lioness, Topsy. The cause of death was clostridial peritonitis. On the previous day, Topsy had given birth to four cubs. Two died immediately after birth and, despite the services of a foster mother, the remaining cubs died about two days after.
Topsy was 16 years of age and was born in the wild state in Africa. With two other cubs she was saved from certain death when found by a game warden. Her mother had been illegally shot. Topsy arrived at Calderpark in June 1947 several weeks before we opened. The handsome lion, Singh, came with her. They were our two main exhibits when we opened and through the years they have become great favourites with thousands of people. Singh and Topsy were presented to us by London Zoo.
The death of Singh can be put down entirely to old age. He was thought to be over 20 years old when he died. We shall always remember this grand old lion with affection. He was our most impressive exhibit when we opened in 1947 and, in the years we had him, Singh has endeared himself to many thousands of people by his parental affection for his cubs. In his prime he was a magnificent specimen, by temperament as well as in appearance.
Attr. Mr R O’Grady