Heavyweights: Tiger cubs on weighing scales at Bokaro zoo. (Pankaj Singh)
It’s an all-boys club at Jawaharlal Nehru Biological Park, Bokaro, as the month-old white tiger triplets have been medically confirmed as males.
And the little heroes have been given names to match. Zoo authorities have christened the cubs born on May 17 to tiger pair Ganga and Satpuda as Amar, Akbar and Anthony, based on the memorable Hindi lost-and-found film of 1977 starring Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor.
Gawkers — from the vet to animal keepers and enthusiasts — can’t deny that the cubs are as handsome if not more than the three leading men they have been named after.
But those who have seen the Manmohan Desai film will want substantial changes in the script.
For one, they will not want the Amar-Akbar-Anthony troika to be separated from parents and each other. In the film, that forms the crux of the story.
They also won’t want Ganga and Satpuda to go through any of the travails that the parents of the original threesome went through. The parents of the three heroes, played by character actors Pran and Nirupa Roy, had to battle a host of fearsome problems ranging from being chased by goons, losing eyesight, getting separated from their kids, being mistaken for dead and so on.
Of course, fans will definitely want a bevy of beauties — Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh and Shabana Azmi played girlfriends to the original stars — to court the cubs.
For now, the cubs, who had weighed between 150gm and 200gm at birth, are drawing countless oohs and aahs by weighing around 3kg each.
Barring multivitamin and calcium doses, they are also dependent completely on mother’s milk. And the regally elegant Ganga, who with consort Satpuda came from Maitribagh zoo, Bhilai, in an animal exchange programme in January third week, has proved to be a doting — and competent — mother.
Breastfeeding Ganga goes out for a morning stroll and takes a beauty bath in a city where the weather has just dipped below 45°C. She takes 12kg of boiled meat and chicken, as well as glucose, pills of multivitamins, calcium, iron and sufficient water.
“She needs nutrition as she will feed her cubs for next eight weeks,” said Dr Gautam Chakravarty, the zoo head.
He added that coolers and fans had been fitted in the cage and cub enclosure.
When mom Ganga spends her morning me-time, the cubs are picked up by caretakers, washed in antiseptic water, brushed and fed calcium and multivitamin pills.
The cage and cub enclosures are washed with turmeric water (a natural antiseptic) and turmeric powder is sprinkled before Ganga and her boys make themselves at home. With water coolers and fans, the enclosure is inviting, never mind the heat outside.
It took more than 10 days for the cubs to open their eyes.
“They are doing well as Ganga feeds them properly and we take utmost care, too. They gain 40 to 50 grams per day. We weigh the cubs after a gap of five to six days,” he said.
What does Satpuda do?
Well, he is a little sidelined right now. Ganga feeds, licks and plays with the cubs. Satpuda watches them from a distance, bemused. For now, mum’s the word.