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20 May 2018

Royal Bengal tigress gives birth in Siliguri park

Royal Bengal tigress, North Bengal Wild Animal Park, Siliguri
Royal Bengal tigress and her cub.
SNS | Siliguri | May 20, 2018 : Sheela, the around four-year-old Royal Bengal tigress, has given birth to three cubs at the Bengal Safari: North Bengal Wild Animal Park, near Siliguri.

Two wild cats–Snehasis and Shila—had been brought to the park from the Alipore Zoological Gardens, Kolkata, on 30 December, 2016. They were earlier brought to the Kolkata zoo from the Nandankanan zoo in Bhubaneswar in Odisha on 20 February the same year. Sheela was then two-and-a-half-years-old, while Snehasis was two years old.

The animals were introduced in the enclosure for public viewing last year. Zoo officials said Sheela and Snehasis had mated a few months ago.

“This is good news. The tigress has given birth to three cubs. This is for the first time tiger cubs have been born in captive breeding at the park,” said member secretary of the West Bengal Zoo authority, Vinod Kumar Yadav.

Officials, however, said the gender of the new guests is yet to be determined.
“The tigress gave birth last week. We can so far say that they are all healthy. Veterinary doctors are monitoring the health of the mother and the babies. The gender of the cubs will be known after some days. The cubs are expected to open their eyes in a fortnight. We are keeping a special 24X7 watch and keeping proper care of the diet of the first-time mother,” said an official.

Director of the park, Arun Mukherjee, said precautions were being taken. “We have taken precautions. The mother is breastfeeding the cubs, but only two cubs can get breastfed at a time. We have taken special care, with only designated persons who allowed to go in. Sheela had not been eating food properly during her final days of pregnancy,” Mr Mukherjee said.

He said it was great news for visitors and the park would become more attractive because of the new guests.

Senior forest officials said it was a great development as regards to the tiger population in the region.

With the cubs, the number of big cats at the park has gone up to six. Around a four-year-old male Royal Bengal Tiger, Vivan, was released at the park on 8 May. The tiger was brought from the Tata Steel Zoological Park in Jamshedpur in December last year but was not released for it to get acclimatised to the new environment.

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