Four tiger cubs soon to woo visitors

Neha Basudkar
Thursday, 7 February 2019

The four cubs, a female and three males named Akash, Sarthak, Guru and Pournima, were born in November last year at the Zoological Park in Katraj.

PUNE: Just as the vacation season starts and families make a beeline for the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in April, the latest centre of attraction could possibly be the latest members of the park, the four tiger cubs! 

The four cubs, a female and three males named Akash, Sarthak, Guru and Pournima, were born in November last year at the Zoological Park in Katraj. Public has not yet been given access to view the cubs, as the zoo authorities want the cubs to stay close to their mother ‘Riddhi’ so that they can learn the inherent nature of a ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’ from her. Raj Kumar Jadhav, Director of the Pune Municipal Corporation-run park, said generally, a Royal Bengal tigress gives birth to 3-5 cubs in captivity of which one or two do not survive. It is rare that in this case, all four have survived the winter.

“That is the prominent reason that we are taking extra care of the cubs and keeping them close to their mother. This is a learning time for them and their mother will teach them many things,” he said.

Zoo authorities will soon decide whether to allow visitors to view them in April or if the cubs still need to be isolated from the prying eyes of visitors.

This is the second time in Pune that a tigress has given birth to four cubs in captivity. The previous instance being in 2004 when the zoo was located near Sarasbaug.

Nine-year-old Riddhi was brought from Aurangabad Zoo while her mate, 8-year-old Bagiram was brought from Pench Tiger Reserve, Nagpur. 

Successful breeding between the two was a worrisome prospect, as Jadhav informed that Bagiram is from the wild jungles, while Riddhi was bred in captivity. They are happy that it was done without hassle. The zoo director also said that two of the cubs will be exchanged after a year under the animal exchange programme.

HEALTHY FELINES
- The four tiger cubs weighted 7-8 kg at birth. Now, after three and a half months, they weigh around 10-12 kg.
- The cubs nursed for two months, after which, they would often share the meat given to their mother.  
- After giving birth, the tigress was given a healthy meal of 10-12 kg meat. She was later given 1.5 litre milk and four eggs in the morning and boneless meat in the evening. 
- When the cubs turned two months old, they were started off on chicken kheema, in addition to their mother’s milk. They now easily digest meat kheema as well. 
- The four cubs have been de-wormed and vaccinated. 
- The weaning period in the wild is usually one-and-half years to two years, but in captivity, it can be under a year.

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