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Tiger cub trio set to woo zoo visitors

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 28: Come January, three tiger cubs that were born here amid much joy about a year ago will get set to attract visitors to Nandankanan.

The cubs will be put on display in a special enclosure at the zoo on their first birthday, January 13.

Born to Sara and Rishi, the latter boasting of a white coat, the three tiger cubs — Subhashree, Ankita and Asha — have been lucky to survive. More often than not, cubs from the first litter of a tigress die following rejection by the mother. Zoo sources said this was a case of survival of such cubs after 10 years.

Zoo officials also said that though tiger cubs were born at Nandankanan about 22 times, the newborns from the first litter failed to survive on as many as 18 occasions.

“We are planning to put these cubs on public display on their first birthday. Though their enclosure is yet to be decided, it is certain that all the three will stay together,” said an official. The cubs were christened by schoolchildren.

“The cubs are in good health. Each of them is given four kilograms of buffalo meat everyday. It will go up to 11 kilograms when they become 15 months old,” said a senior zoo official.

The death of five newborn tiger cubs at the zoo on November 18 last year had triggered a controversy. Born to Priyanka, a 12-year-old tigress, their death forced the state government to order a probe.

But soon after these three cubs were born in the zoo, the authorities installed CCTV cameras in their room to monitor them round the clock. The zoo authorities had also kept ready stocks of Royal Canine Milk, a special kind of milk that was brought from Calcutta to feed the cubs in the event of their rejection by the mother.

At present, Nandankanan has 26 tigers, including 10 white ones. The zoo authorities hope that the cubs will be the centre of attraction in Nandankanan in the coming days.

“This will be the first time after nearly a decade when visitors will be able to see tiger cubs,” said a zoo official.

Nandankanan had witnessed a record footfall during 2011-12. According to statistics, as many as 24.6 lakh persons visited the zoo between April 2011 and March 2012, which was an increase of 68,000 over the figures for 2010-11.

The visitors, too, are eagerly waiting to see the cubs. “I have never seen a tiger cub. It will be fascinating to see the three of them together,” said Deepali, a school-going kid.