The leopard cub in Ranchi on Thursday. Telegraph picture
An eight-day-old leopard is giving the capital’s zoo many reasons to smile.
Officials of Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park on Ranchi’s outskirts are hopeful that the spotted cub, born on May 2, thrives. Its parents had arrived at the scenic animal enclosure from Guwahati zoo under an animal exchange programme in March.
The yet-unnamed newborn — whose gender has not been identified — appears to be comfortable in the care of its mother, putting to rest speculations that it had little hopes of survival.
The zoo had, incidentally, had lost three of its newborn tiger cubs born to tigress Shanti in April last year, with officials choosing to remain tight-lipped over the exact reasons of the death, which they vaguely attributed to “congenital defect”.
This time around, however, they are upbeat as the mother leopard is seen snuggling up to her yet-to-be-named cub, in what experts claimed was a display of “motherly ability”.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday, zoo director P.K. Verma said that they were doing everything they could to ensure the wellbeing of the newborn.
“We are taking all necessary precautions. The leopard enclosure is being cleaned daily. We are also providing the mother leopard with a nutritious diet,” Verma said.
He added that the zoo had been stung by the last deaths and hence would monitor the activities of the mother and the child till the cub grew up.
Prodded about the diet, the zoo director said that the mother was given a nutritious diet of chicken and multivitamins.
“The cub, which weighs between 35-55 grammes, is having mother’s milk. So we are trying to keep the mother leopard healthy. Other carnivores are usually kept off food for one day each week. But the mother leopard is fed daily,” Verma said.
The newborn is expected to open its eyes by the end of this month.
“Then, zoo officials will start giving it mutton meatballs,” the zoo’s vet Ajay Kumar said, adding that teeth in leopards start coming out in four weeks.
He stressed they were maintaining round-the-clock vigil of the enclosure and no one, other than keepers who give food, were being allowed nearby. Interestingly, right after its birth, the cub was shifted to the zoo’s clinic, equipped with an operating theatre and pathological labs, for round-the-clock care.