A tigress at the Nehru Zoological Park has given birth to a litter. The nearly six-year-old tigress had moved to the delivery cage located besides the moat about three weeks ago to produce the litter, but the authorities are yet to catch sight of the newborns and count the cubs.

“Except for occasional mews heard by the animal keeper on duty, we do not even know how many cubs have been born,” an official confessed.

Zoo authorities decided not to intrude into the cage and disturb the tigress and the newborns. This decision has roots in a similar situation a few years ago when a tigress abandoned its newborn cubs after they were touched and handled by the staff. The cubs then were reared under foster care.

To ensure that the same does not repeat, authorities have instructed the staff against entering the cage or handle the cubs. The regular animal keeper assigned to the moat, whose scent is familiar to the tigress, has been asked to keep the feed inside the cage regularly.

Zoo Curator A. Sankaran said the tigress seemed to be doing well as the feed was being taken properly. “We have increased the diet and it is being consumed on time which means the mother is fine and weaning the cubs too,” he said.

The specially designed delivery cage behind the moat has been packed with plywood sheets and only one door made available for feed purposes. The feline went in there more than three weeks ago and the zoo authorities expect it to stay there with its cubs for another month.

Zoo authorities decide not to intrude into the cage as they fear the tigress may abandon its newborns if they are handled by the zoo staff