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Guddu dies before Guinness entry

Record Miss

Lucknow, Jan. 16: Zoo officials in Kanpur will no longer have to place bulk orders for boneless meat.

Guddu, whose toothless gums made it impossible for him to crunch through bones, died yesterday of age-related ailments, at a time the zoo authorities were planning to send his age to the Guinness World Records.

The Royal Bengal Tiger was over 26 — possibly the “oldest” tiger to have died “in a captive environment”, according to the zoo staff who “cremated” the veteran resident with a heavy heart.

S.C. Mishra, a tiger conservator, said the average lifespan of a Bengal tiger is between 13 and 16 years.

The solemn farewell to Guddu, as zoo staff fondly called him, came at a time a combined team of wildlife officials and sharpshooters drawn from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have been combing the forest corridors in Moradabad, Bijnor and Kalagarh forest range for a tigress, which has been declared a “maneater”.

The tigress, said to have strayed from the Corbett national park, has killed seven persons since December 26 in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad division.

Kanpur zoo director K. Thomas said Guddu died late last night. “The Royal Bengal Tiger was brought to Uttar Pradesh from Chandigarh zoo in 2000 when it was 13 years old, according to records made available by the Haryana government. So our records show it was 26-plus,” Thomas told The Telegraph today.

“Between 2000 and 2008, the tiger lived alternatively at Lucknow and Kanpur zoo but, since 2008, it was continuously in the custody of Kanpur zoo. We were taking special care of the tiger, considering his age.”

Guddu, Thomas said, was “burnt” inside the zoo after an autopsy.

Zoo officials said Guddu had stopped eating since January 9. “On the advice of veterinarians, we had put him on vitamins and boneless meat as he had lost all his teeth,” said S.K. Tripathi, an official.

“He could not even stand on his feet and had no strength to chew a bone. So we used to offer him around 10kg of boneless meat every day which he used to swallow with pain,” said zoo vet S.K. Singh.

Tiger conservator Mishra, a former Uttar Pradesh wildlife warden, said the longest living Royal Bengal Tiger is believed to be Flavio, a 25-year-old sheltered at the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. “I have seen a tiger living in captivity for 20 years but, if there are no errors on papers, Guddu has clocked a new lifespan record.”

But Kanpur zoo’s claim on Guddu’s age, Mishra added, is “subject to verification by an independent authority”.

P.P. Singh, another tiger conservator, said before Guddu, the oldest tiger to have died in captivity in India was Ramu. The big cat died in Jaipur zoo in 2010 at the age of 24.