Almost one week is gone, but Royal Bengal tigress Dona’s surviving family have still not come to terms with her death.
The much-loved tigress Dona died on December 27, aged seven, from suspected kidney complications at Tata Steel Zoological Park, leaving behind a grieving beau, Kailash, and daughters Sunaina and Saloni.
Two-year-old cubs Sunaina and Saloni are no longer playful. Instead of their daily mock fights, they mope quietly in their enclosure.
Dona’s beau Kailash, a white tiger brought here from Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, Tirupati, in 2017, is lethargic and sleepy most of the time after Dona’s death.
Caretakers say he was alert and on his toes when Dona was around.
Cubs Sunaina and Saloni (Animesh Sengupta)
Dona was the imperious one, Kailash easygoing. “Now Kailash seems to have lost all interest in life. The cubs are also very sad ever since Dona died. We have never seen them in such grief. Animals do have feelings, after all,” a caretaker told The Telegraph after releasing Sunaina and Saloni in the open on Friday afternoon.
He added that Saloni and Sunaina were missing their mother the most.
“The cubs would play with Dona’s tail inside the crawl area, chase her, prod her with their paws. They would try to climb the trees inside the enclosure, trip and fall and rush to their mother,” the caretaker recalled. “We don’t know when these tigers will overcome their grief.”
A security guard deployed near the tiger enclosure added he used to enjoy the mock fights of Saloni and Sunaina when Dona was alive. “Now, they are just quiet. So is Kailash,” he said. “Visitors to the zoo may have also noticed the difference in the tigers’ behaviour.”