The white tiger is not coming – at least not anytime in the near future. This is not the first time that the zoo has come up against a brick wall in its mission to acquire the majestic feline.
The most recent agreement was with the Delhi Zoological Park, to fly in the animal by November. But, according to zoo officials here, the one that was to be flown in is now pregnant, and it will take another six months to even consider transferring it.
There is another hindrance too to the animal transfer arrangements. The Delhi zoo officials have reportedly decided to change the terms of the bargain by demanding a pair of African cape buffalos along with the jaguar already agreed to. Zoo authorities here feel that these animals cannot be handed over for one white tiger.
Around two years ago, the city zoo had given a pair of cape buffalos to the Mysore zoo for a pair of gaur. The zoo is yet to acquire new buffaloes and so cannot afford to give away the ones they have.
Moreover, zoo officials have doubts about handing over the jaguar on ‘breeding loan,’ as chances of getting the animal back are remote. Case in point is the South American tapir, an animal that resembles a wild boar. According to a senior zoo official, the city zoo has not seen a tapir since they gave one on loan over a decade ago.
Just a year ago, there was another plan to bring in white tigers from the Visakhapatnam zoo but it failed when the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) did not sanction the exchange of the lion-tailed macaque from here for the white tigers. An exchange with the Nandankanan zoo in Odisha was considered in 2005 but nothing happened.
There is good news too. Seven anacondas may reach the city by January, with just a couple of procedures remaining regarding foreign exchange. The CZA had sanctioned the zoo’s proposal to bring in the snakes in May, but this expires in six months.
But officials here are optimistic. Zoo Director B. Joseph said representatives at New Delhi were working towards the getting the next approval from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Following this, an agency will have to be contacted to ship seven three-year-old anacondas. CZA sanction could be renewed without much delay, he added.
The Public Works Department has already begun the construction of a quarantine shelter. Considering the size of these creatures, the reptile house will be extended to accommodate them said zoo vet, Jacob Alexander. Seven are being brought because their mortality is high. The Dehiwala zoo in Sri Lanka does not expect animals in return.