CM names white and Royal Bengal tiger cubs at Vandalur zoo; launches research and breeding centres

When animal caretaker K. Chelliah released seven tiger cubs from tiny, custom-made boxes into an enclosure on Friday morning, they ran forward towards the visitor who had come to see and name them.

On her maiden visit to the Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur as Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa was all smiles as she watched the white cubs frisk about behind the 7-ft. steel mesh that ran around the cubs’ circular enclosure.

After telling zoo director KSSVP Reddy that the cubs looked healthy, she asked him about the food given to them and the reason behind their being white.

“They look healthy and are very active,” the CM said.

The naming ceremony then began. The two white male cubs were named Arjuna (bright and bold) and Athreya (container of glory).

The two female white cubs are now Kaveri (holy river) and Chitra (bright-coloured).

The three female Royal Bengal tiger cubs will now be known as Nethra (eyes); Vidya (knowledge and clarity) and Aarthi or worship. After spending nearly 15 minutes with the cubs,

Ms. Jayalalithaa walked towards the enclosure, where Anu, the oldest female white tigress resides along with her large family.

There, the CM saw the two white cubs she had named Rama and Chandra in 2011, who have now grown up.

Her next stop was the elephant moat where she watched the feeding of four elephant calves that had been rescued from the forests of western Tamil Nadu a few years ago. Before she left the zoo, the CM spent a few minutes at the pygmy hippopotamus enclosure.

The idea of giving Tamil names to cubs began a few years ago, when then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi named a male and two female white tiger cubs Sembian, Indra and Valli respectively in September 2010.

In October 2012, three female lion cubs were named Kala, Maya and Nila.

Ms. Jayalalithaa also launched a series of projects by the State Forest Department including the setting up of a dedicated research centre for wild animals, a rare wild species breeding scientific research centre and the Tamil Nadu Forest Academy Centenary building in Coimbatore.

The wild animal research centre will be built at a cost of Rs. 27.13 crore and will collect and provide information on all kinds of animals. It will also have a research laboratory and separate laboratories for herbivorous and carnivorous animals. The breeding centre will be set up at a cost of Rs. 5 crore.

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