After a gap of eight years, a six-year-old jackal gave birth to six female pups at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur, a few days ago.

The cubs and their mother are said to be healthy. The pups, each weighing about three kilograms, are being given special care with zoo vets making periodic checks on their health. The mother, too, is being provided with necessary care with a special diet of two chickens and a kilogram of beef feed daily.

“The cubs are feeding on their mother’s milk. It will take a few months before they can be allowed for public viewing as they have to get acclimatised to the other adults in the pack in the common enclosure,” said a zoo vet.

With the newborns, the zoo now has eleven side-striped jackals, including four adult males and one adult female.

There are three types of jackal in the wild — the black-backed jackal, the side-striped jackal and the golden jackal. The side-striped jackal is the heaviest and the only of the three to be found outside Africa, in places including south eastern Europe, the Middle East, western Asia, and south Asia.

Explaining its features, a zoo official said that their long legs and large feet help them in long-distance running. Most active at dawn and dusk, they are monogamous and occasionally assemble in small packs mainly to scavenge but they normally hunt alone or in pairs. They prey on small mammals like deer, reptiles and birds.

The Vandalur zoo, the first in the country and the biggest in south Asia, houses 2,553 flora and fauna varieties on its 1,265-acre campus. At least 46 endangered animals of the Western Ghats and the subcontinent and 22 lion-tailed macaques find a home here.

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