They died of hunger after they were abandoned by their mother

The euphoria over the birth of five cubs, including a white one, in the Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) here did not last long as all the newborns died on Friday.

On Wednesday, Priyanka, the 11-year-old tigress, gave birth for the first time. Soon after giving birth the mother abandoned the cubs and refused to feed them.

“We don't see anything unusual in the incident. Priyanka had become mother for the first time. Even in the wild, such rejection leading to deaths happens,” said Siba Narayan Mohapatra, deputy director of NZP. There was no way one could make the tigress feed her cubs, Mr. Mohapatra said.

Rare phenomenon

Till date, 347 cubs were born in the zoo. The birth of five cubs at one go is said to be a rare phenomenon. Normally two to three cubs are born at a time. In the history of the Nandankanan Zoo, only on three occasions have the birth of five cubs been recorded. On two occasions, all five cubs died. In the other instance, three survived.

According to zoo sources, animal keepers had been observing the deteriorating health of three cubs since Thursday evening. The mother was not found near the cubs. After post-mortem, it was found that the cubs died of acute hunger.

In fact, the birth of a white cub had thrilled the zoo authorities as a normal-coloured Royal Bengal Tiger pair had given birth to a white cub after 11 years. At present, the premier zoo has 24 tigers; 10 of these are white ones.

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