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21 May 2018

Tiger triplets raise breeding hopes at Siliguri park

SNS | Siliguri | The forest department is upbeat after a Royal Bengal tigress, Sheela, gave birth to triplets, a move that has also caught the fancy of wildlife lovers and enthusiasts.

The tigress has given birth to three cubs, one of which is white, at the Bengal Safari: North Bengal Wild Animal Park, near Siliguri, and officials here feel such a development may encourage them to set up a tiger breeding centre here.
“The tiger population in the country is fast dwindling, while around 30% of the existing big cats are white. So definitely it is a significant achievement. It is perhaps for the first time that a white tiger is born in captive breeding outside the Nandankanan Zoological Park in Bhubaneswar in Odisha,” a forester said.
The zoo there has the largest population of white tigers as compared to other zoos in the country. Two Wildcats–Snehasis and Sheela-which had been brought to the Siliguri park from the Alipore Zoological Gardens, Kolkata, on 30 December, 2016, were earlier brought to the Kolkata zoo from Nandankanan on 20 February the same year.
The animals mated here last year. Wildlife experts said a white tiger was born as the parents carry the unusual (recessive) gene as they were bred in the Nandankanan park.
An elated forest minster, Binay Krishna Barman, said the development would draw more visitors and tourists to the park. “It is indeed good news and a great achievement. One of the cubs is white. White tiger is not very common, and we are hopeful that more tourists and visitors would come,” Mr Barman said.
Director of the park, Arun Mukherjee, said it would take some months before they would allow public viewing of the big cats. A zoo official said the first instance of captive breeding of tiger here may prompt forest department to take initiatives to set up a tiger breeding centre.
“The infrastructure here is almost ready, including treatment facilities with veterinary doctors. The forest department may think over the necessity of a tiger breeding centre here,” he said.

Royal Bengal tigress gives birth in Siliguri park

SNS | 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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