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Melanistic tigers exhibited in Nandankanan zoo

Melanistic tigers at the Nandankanan zoo.

Melanistic tigers at the Nandankanan zoo.

In what might be a first, Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) has put two melanistic tigers in zoo enclosure for visitors.

To mark the occasion, NZP had planned a big celebration on Tuesday. Due to the demise of former President A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the function was cancelled. However, two one-year-old black striped tigers were released into enclosure silently.

“Melanistic tigers were born purely due to genetic reasons. Increased development of melanin pigment in the body causes black stripes. Melanistic tigers are rarely found in the world. We are showing off these rare big cats in captive to the world for the first time,” Sudarshan Panda, NZP Director told The Hindu.

On July 28 last year, a white tigress named Sneha had given birth to three male and one female cub. Of the four, two were found to have darker stripes, the signs of a melanistic tiger. They were immediately kept away from visitors, but their growth was monitored through CCTV cameras. During the last one year, the black stripes gradually became darker.

Two tigers — one white tiger and normal-coloured — have black stripes on their bodies. Sneha had mated with male tiger, Manish, a normal-coloured Royal Bengal Tiger. The pairing was part of the planned breeding programmes of NZP.

Mr. Panda said melanistic tiger was spotted by camera in Similipal Tiger Reserve during census a couple of years ago.

In 1980s, Nandankanan hogged headlines after white tigers were born to normal-coloured parents. At present, NZP has 26 tigers, 18 normal royal Bengal tigers and 8 white royal Bengal tigers.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2022 9:06:04 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/melanistic-tigers-exhibited-in-nandankanan-zoo/article7473887.ece