A young tigress died at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) on Sunday night, taking the death toll of big cats at the park to four over the weekend.

Divya, the three-and-half-year-old tigress, died due to suspected diarrhoea, M.N. Jayakumar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Member Secretary to Zoo Authority of Karnataka, told The Hindu. The young tigress, which shared an enclosure with her mother and two siblings, had been looking subdued for around a fortnight.

“She had been on drips the last couple of days but showed no signs of recovery,” said Mr. Jayakumar. The Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAHVB) conducted a post-mortem on her on Monday, the results of which will be out this week, he added.

Divya's death has come close on the heels of the demise of two lions and a Siberian tiger over the weekend, all three of which were said to be suffering from “age-related conditions”.

The two lions, which had been rescued from circuses and were with the rescue centre, were 18 and 24 years old. The Siberian tiger, rescued from an Italian circus and kept at the rescue centre run by the Born Free Foundation, was 21 years old.

“Usually, the life span of carnivores like tigers is around 16 years. Prima facie, the death could be due to natural reasons since they had surpassed their lifespan,” said Mr. Jayakumar. Nevertheless, the visceral samples had been sent for lab tests to ascertain the exact cause,” he added.

The zoo authority has launched an inquiry into these incidents. Mr. Jayakumar said the remains of the beef served to Divya on Sunday had been sent to the lab tests to check its quality.

Zoo insiders describe the quality of food provided to carnivores as poor. “There is no check on the quality of meat given to the 150-odd carnivorous animals in the park. At times, beef stored for days is fed to them,” said a BBP official. Tigers, lions, leopards and other carnivores at the park are fed six days a week.

Leopard kills deer

In reply to a query, Mr. Jayakumar said: “If the inquiry reveals animal deaths could be part of wildlife trade in skin, strict action will be taken.”

Meanwhile, in a freak incident, a captive chital (spotted deer) was killed by a wild leopard that entered BBP on Monday.

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