She is barely 13 months old, but Jamuna can fling herself more than twice her body length to get out of the grille-mesh cage that is supposed to keep her off harm’s way.
The playful and highly intelligent Royal Bengal tigress at Indore’s Kamla Nehru zoo showed her leaping skills twice in a fortnight, the latest on Monday afternoon. She scaled the 15-foot fence to soak up the sun in the buffer zone, the last barrier that separates her fangs and claws from zoo-goers and keepers.
“Thankfully, Monday was a holiday and there were no visitors. Zoo staff were present when the incident happened. Jamuna was in the buffer area for about 15 minutes before our staff guided her back into the enclosure,” said Nihar Parulekar, the zoo’s curator and education officer. No tranquiliser was needed.
Jamuna is athletic, muscular, and lean. She can do 10 feet without ado, and cross 14 with a run-up. “Hence her big leaps,” Parulekar explained.
At seven feet and 180 kilos, Jamuna is huge and her “abnormally aggressive behaviour” is keeping the zookeepers on their toes.
“We will shift her to a bigger enclosure, where a white tiger used to stay,” Parulekar said.
The white tiger died of a cobra bite two winters ago.
Jamuna’s aggression and intelligence are a reflection of a tiger’s predatory spirit.
She jumped out from the front of the enclosure, scaling an 11-foot wall and three feet of iron mesh, on November 27. The lattice provided a good grip. And so, the zoo authorities fixed an iron sheet atop the mesh to raise the height.
They forgot the rear. Jamuna chose, with the benefit of hindsight, on Monday the enclosure’s back fence — a three-foot wall and a 12-foot iron mesh. This part is off-limits for visitors, but has a small path that zookeepers use to feed the animal.
“Children outside have thrown stones and were making a noise. This could have excited the animal,” said mayor Malini Gaud, who dashed to the zoo after being informed about Jamuna’s escape.