Nandankanan zoo unveils its rare melanistic tigers

July 29, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 06:58 am IST - BHUBANESWAR:

BHUBANESWAR, ODISHA, 28.07.15

AMAZING
The melanistic tiger cub, one of the four of a brood of a white tigress born at Nandankanan Zoological Park, was released open for public viewing near Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

Photo: Lingaraj Panda

BHUBANESWAR, ODISHA, 28.07.15

AMAZING
The melanistic tiger cub, one of the four of a brood of a white tigress born at Nandankanan Zoological Park, was released open for public viewing near Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.

Photo: Lingaraj Panda

How many of us have come across melanistic tiger, popularly known as black tiger, in captivity?

Almost everybody would nod in negative in the reply. In what might be a first, Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) has put melanistic tigers in an enclosure for visitors to see.

To mark the occasion, the NZP had planned a big celebration on Tuesday. Due to 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 , here.

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 past one year, the black stripes gradually became darker.

Other two cubs were normal coloured.

Two tigers – one white-coloured tiger and normal-coloured – have black stripes on their bodies.

White-coloured Sneha had mated with male tiger, Manish, a normal coloured Royal Bengal Tiger (RBT) that led to litter. The pairing was part of 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, first such occasion in India.

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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