A Royal Bengal Tiger, to whom Alipore zoo has been home since July last year, has lost his ability to hunt after being brought to the zoological gardens in a state of critical debilitation.
Forest officials rescued the tiger from the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) and brought him to Kolkata in the evening of July 20, 2012.
Although the tiger has been nursed back to health, zoo doctors feel he will not be able to hunt any more. There, chances are high that the Royal Bengal Tiger may never go back to its home again.
The tiger was very weak, with external injuries and posterior weakness, when forest department officials found him in the Sunderbans. While treating the tiger, veterinarians diagnosed it with infective osteo-arthritis, which explains his posterior weakness.
“The tiger is a full-grown adult, around seven or eight years old. In order to hunt and find food for itself, the tiger needs to run faster than its prey,” Dr Dayanarayan Banerjee, the vet at the zoo hospital.
“For example,” Banerjee continued, “If a deer runs at an average speed for 70 to 80 km per hour, the tiger needs to run faster to overtake and overpower its prey. We do not think the tiger has the ability to run at such speeds any more. Although it’s fit an health at present, it is advisable that the tiger be kept in captivity henceforth.” Additionally, the femoral region of the tiger’s body, the thigh, was infected as a result of a deep external injury. While conducting an x-ray on the tiger, doctors found that the infection had spread to the femoral region.
“The injury was more than six inches deep but it has almost healed,” said Alipore zoo director KL Ghosh.“You wouldn’t recognise the tiger at present, since he gained weight,” the zoo director said. When it was brought in to the zoo in July, the tiger weighed 80 kg but now it weighs about 100 kg, sources said.
According to Ghosh, forest department officials and doctors would be the best people to decide the tiger’s fate - whether it should be released in the wild or kept in captivity.
“It depends on the decision. Maybe it will be released, maybe it will be sent to a rehabilitation centre, or maybe it will be kept in the zoo,” the zoo director said.