ANDHRA PRADESH

Tirupati zoo's giant celebrity

catwalk: Balaji, billed as one of the heaviest ever leopards, seen on the prowl in Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, Tirupati. — Photo: K.V. Poornachandra Kumar

catwalk: Balaji, billed as one of the heaviest ever leopards, seen on the prowl in Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, Tirupati. — Photo: K.V. Poornachandra Kumar  

16-year-old leopard weighs 139 kg, against normal weight of 70 kg of its class

Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, located at the foot of the holy seven hills here, can boast of having one of the largest leopards to be ever recorded. The burly beast weighs 139 kg against the normal weight of 70 kg of its class.

In fact, it reportedly weighed 108 kg even when it was trapped in 1996 by the zoo authorities, to check its frequent surreptitious forays into the zoo hunting for some easy preys inside.

Christened as ‘Balaji', the male beast with its beautiful brown spots, is the biggest attraction in the 2,112-hectare zoo, billed as the largest wildlife sanctuary in Asia, in terms of its vastness.

The zoo curator S. Saravanan asserts that the animal does not suffer from any genetic disorder to be so obese. Further, it has not become a glutton either to fill its huge over-sized belly.

It eats only the normal 4 kg of beef which is given to the other leopards in the zoo daily. Balaji is already 16 years old now — the normal lifespan of a leopard. But the zoo conservator says that it might live for one or two years more without any problem given its robust health and growth. Guinness entry

If everything goes on well for the bulky big cat, its name and ‘fame' would soon find their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park management is said to be already in touch with the Guinness Book authorities seeking an entry for ‘Balaji', the big cat.



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