The six-foot tall, nine-year-old playfully rolls and runs around to escape the fast, furious, stream of water sprayed at him during his weekly bath. At first glance, no one will suspect that he killed an intruder two years ago.
Vijay, the white tiger of the Delhi Zoo, who had become an overnight celebrity in 2014 after killing a 22-year-old man, is now the father of four cubs. He lives a quiet life, away from the paparazzi.
“After the incident, visitors came from across the country to catch a glimpse of Vijay. Now, many have forgotten the incident,” said Riaz Khan, curator, Delhi Zoo.
Manoj, Vijay’s handler, describes him as a calm animal. He is also the star breeder of the zoo, who fathered five cubs last year with his mate, Kalpana.
However, only four of the cubs survived. His fifth cub died after a piece of meat got stuck in its throat.
“Vijay mourned for two weeks after his cub’s death. He stopped eating. Of all the wild animals here, Vijay is the least dangerous,” he said.
Manoj has been handling Vijay since 2007, when he was brought to the zoo from Punjab, just two months after his birth. In 2013, he bought a dog comb from his personal savings to brush Vijay’s coat.
“It is my gift to him and he loves to be brushed. I have attached a stick to the brush to rub his belly as well. We need to keep his coat shining to attract female partners,” he said.
He says, after the 2014 episode, people were quick to deduce that Vijay might have turned into a maneater, but that was not the case.