2 Royal Bengal tigresses arrive in Ludhiana zoo, 3rd wildcat in tow
Two Royal Bengal tigresses have arrived at the tiger safari near Amaltas village here, while preparations are on to receive the third guest from the Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, or Chhatbir Zoo, in Chhat village near Zirakpur. The third Bengal tiger is expected to reach the safari next week.
The wildlife department has shifted the big cats to the safari from the zoo and, currently, are monitoring their behaviour and helping the big cats in acclimatising to their new habitat.
The zoo officials said the animals needed to be quarantined for some time, so that they could comfortably adapt to their new habitat.
A cat, Chirag, was born in the safari and her parents Paras and Chorni are now dead.
“While Chirag was released in the safari, the other tigress has been kept in a cage. Initially, Chirag showed some aggressive behaviour and attacked a bus ferrying wildlife department officials and guards. But, now she is comfortable with the presence of the bus inside the safari and shows no such signs of aggressiveness,” said a zoo employee. The big cats have been brought here to attract more visitors.
The safari has a forest area of over 10 hectares and tigers are released in the safari in shifts. Zoo authorities keep food in the cage and ring the bell, which is an indication for the animals to come back to their enclosures to have food. The tigresses are currently being trained for this process.
The zoo authorities have renovated all the eleven cages for a cosy stay of the guests.
Divisional forest officer (DFO, wildlife) Khushwinder Singh Gill said the safari at the Ludhiana zoo attracts people from the state, especially from districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Phagwara and Phillaur towns.
The safari had witnessed the death of three tigresses Mohini, Elaichi and Shanti in 2013 within a few months, leaving only two male tigers, Deepak and Mani, in the safari.
Both Deepak and Mani and one of the deceased tigresses were also found to have been infected with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that mainly affects the liver and kidneys.
Following this, the state government had decided not to introduce any new tigers in the safari till the infection was completely wiped out.
Deepak, an 18-year-old tiger, had died on December 19 last year. As the third Bengal tiger is expected to reach the tiger safari next week, the safari will have four tigers. Mani, the lone male tiger in the safari, has also turned 18.
An official at the Chhatbir Zoo said the Bilaspur zoo had agreed to give a tigress to the Ludhiana safari and “We are in the process of taking another healthy male for breeding.”
About tiger safari
The foundation stone of the safari was laid on September 23, 1988, by the then additional chief secretary of Punjab Dr MS Gill.
Spread across 59 hectares near Jalandhar Bypass on the National Highway (NH-1, also called NH-44), the safari was thrown open to public in 1992. Since then, it has remained a huge attraction among visitors, especially on weekends.
Recently, the department had launched an animal adoption scheme under which any resident could adopt an animal or bird kept in the zoo by paying an annual care taking fee and could also avail a tax benefit as well.