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Tiger family grows with four cubs

The city zoo is celebrating the success of their conservation programme for tigers after the birth of four cubs at one go.

Swarna, a white Royal Bengal Tigress at Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, gave birth to the quadruplets on Tuesday evening. Two of the newborn cubs are white like their mother while the others are normal coloured.

Royal Bengal Tiger, India’s National Animal, was included in the endangered list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2010. There are eight tigers at Patna zoo now.

The tigress was brought from Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad in 2011. Before this, the she had given birth to three cubs but all of them died soon after.

The Patna zoo officials, though elated at the birth of the cubs, are cautious on count of their experience. They claim to be careful with the survival of the tiger cubs.

Swarna and her cubs have been kept in seclusion. The zoo employees are monitoring their activities through a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera in their enclosure. Live footage from the CCTV camera on Wednesday afternoon showed the tiger cubs cuddled up in their mother’s lap. Their gender could not be identified till Wednesday.

On the joyous birth of the quadruplets, Patna zoo director S. Chandrashekhar told The Telegraph on Wednesday: “Swarna gave birth to four cubs around 4pm on Tuesday. The newborn cubs, as well as the mother, are healthy. The mother seems to be taking due care of the cubs but no one is being allowed inside the enclosure, as we do not want to disturb Swarna. The cubs are usually able to open their eyes properly in two weeks from birth.”

Last year, the officials at Patna zoo had conducted the mating of Swarna with Royal Bengal Tiger Bhima on November 19-20. Both tigers were brought from the Hyderabad zoo in August 2011 under an animal exchange programme. The southern zoo had received a pair of Indian single-horned rhinoceros from Patna under the programme.

On the earlier try, Swarna had given birth to three cubs at the Patna zoo on the night of August 31, 2012. But all of them died, one after another, over the next few weeks from canine distemper, a viral disease in the cat family.

Taking lessons from the death of the three cubs, the zoo authorities claimed they have taken every precaution to ensure the newborn cubs survive this time.

As part of the steps to ensure the cubs’ survival, none of the zoo staff, including the director or the veterinarians, has gone inside the night enclosure. The cubs are being closely monitored by a team of seven vets, including five from Bihar Veterinary College, through the CCTV camera installed in the night house of the tiger enclosure where Swarna gave birth.

Zoo sources said Swarna has been spending all her time with the cubs only to leave the night enclosure to eat or drink. They added that the cubs are unlikely to be brought out for public display before the next six months.

“We will not force the tigress or the cubs to come out of their enclosure. The night house of the tiger enclosure has an opening toward the enclosed nursery. If the mother feels like it, then she can take out her cubs to the open on her own. Or, the cubs can come out once they are able to walk. In any case, people would not be able to see the cubs before six months,” said an employee at the zoo.


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