The Telegraph
Wednesday , April 23 , 2014
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Cupid comes to lovelorn Tata zoo

- Big cats Dona & Kailash eye each other; hungry herds stay anchored in abundant Bengal jungles

They are single and pretty much ready to mingle.

Cupid seems to have found its way into the hearts of resident Royal Bengal tigress Dona and her prospective beau — the white big cat Kailash — at Tata Steel Zoological Park.

Daughter of Shanti and Raghav, Dona, who turned two on April 16, is sending out positive signals to Kailash, who is exactly double her age.

Now that Dona’s 15-and-a-half-year-old mother Shanti cannot conceive, zoo authorities are happy with the potential union between the Royal princess and Kailash who had been brought to Tata zoo from Tirupati-based Sri Venkateshwara zoo on March 2 under an animal exchange programme.

“It’s a very positive development. Kailash often checks Dona out at the crawl area where she spends most of her time. Though the female is yet to reach puberty, we are sure that we won’t have to work hard when it comes to mating the two after over a year or so,” said zoo vet Manik Palit.

Dona will be ready to mate by November 2015. Male tigers start mating at four, while tigresses are matured by the time they turn three-and-a-half years. Tigresses normally have a gestation period of 105 days and give birth to three to four cubs at a time.

“Not only Kailash, Dona also seems to be attracted towards the white tiger. She becomes restless in her cell when Kailash is not seen around the enclosure,” said a caretaker.

According to zoo vet Palit, Kailash is let out in the open from 7.30am to 5pm. “Dona, Shanti and Raghav are inside their cells when the guest is out. We have allotted three days for Kaliash to spend time in the enclosure. Four days are reserved for the Royal Bengal family,” said Palit.

The vet added that they were keeping tabs on the behaviour of both Dona and Kailash. “We may release them together in the open once the female attains puberty. Till then, both can continue their “secret” courtship,” said Palit.

Talking about Dona and Kailash’s love affair, Palit recalled how the zoo management toiled to make Shanti and Raghav friends. “We remember how Shanti lost her temper when Raghav tried to come too close to her in November 2010. Cupid finally struck in July next year. But, I don’t think Dona will react the same way,” Palit hoped.

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