Byculla Zoo gets two new feline residents

Settling in: Tiger Shakti (in the foreground) and tigress Karishma at Byculla zoo on Thursday.

Settling in: Tiger Shakti (in the foreground) and tigress Karishma at Byculla zoo on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Zoo gets tigers after 14 years; new pair will be in quarantine for a month

After 14 years, Byculla zoo got a pair of tigers from the Aurangabad zoo on Wednesday, but Mumbaikars will have to wait for a month to see them.

The young Royal Bengal tiger and tigress are healthy and will be quarantined for a month for acclimatisation. Only after that will Mumbaikars be able to take a look at them. In exchange, Byculla zoo has given two pairs of spotted deer and painted storks to Aurangabad zoo.

The last tiger in Byculla zoo died in 2006. After bringing Humboldt penguins to the zoo in the second phase of its revamp, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has undertaken several new initiatives, the most recent being the inauguration of a walk-through aviary.

A pair of leopards was brought to the zoo last year from Mangaluru. The civic administration wants to bring in exotic animals and a pair of Asiatic lions from Gujarat. The process to procure these lions is still under way.

The tiger, Shakti, is a little over three years old while the tigress, Karishma, is around 5.5 years old. A zoo official said there was also a tigress named Kareena in the Aurangabad zoo.

Shakti and Karishma had paired up in their previous home. They are categorised as young adult tigers and both weigh 180-200 kg. Since they have been bred in captivity and have lived in Aurangabad zoo all their lives, they are accustomed to the presence of humans.

For the exchange, the big cats had to be coaxed into the cage that would then be loaded onto a truck. Authorities said it took them around 24 hours to just coax them, as according to the rules, animals are not sedated during transportation.

The cages were made as per Central Zoo Authority guidelines with enough ventilation, and loaded onto a truck that halts every couple of hours. A team of veterinarians from Byculla zoo checked on the animals every few hours. After a journey of around 14 hours from Aurangabad, they arrived at Byculla zoo around 10 p.m. on Wednesday, following which they ate a regular meal.

“The fact that they ate a meal at night means that they are comfortable. They slept properly at night, which also shows they are relaxed. Since we have spent the past few days with them, they are responding to our voice now. But it will take longer to build trust. The caretakers at Aurangabad spoke to them in Marathi, and so we do too,” said a veterinarian doctor at Byculla zoo.

According to veterinarians, Shakti is the dominant one, although Karishma is also aggressive. The animals eat around 13 kg of buffalo meat per day.

The zoo authorities expect them to mate, and Byculla zoo may in the event get tiger cubs. After the quarantine period is over, the pair will move to a large enclosure inside the zoo designed on the lines of Ranthambore national park. Work on the enclosure is in its final stages and Zoo director Sanjay Tripathi said that by the time the quarantine period is over, the animals can move into their enclosure.

Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited the pair on Thursday. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will most likely inaugurate the enclosure.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 10:47:53 AM |

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