A walk, a cake and some songs: Delhi zoo celebrates white tiger Vijay’s birthday
A group of 60 children took part in the birthday celebrations for white tiger Vijay at the Delhi zoo.delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2017 12:59 IST
Riddhima Bisht, 12, has been to several birthday parties. But, the one she attended on Thursday was unlike any other.
Riddhima was among the troupe of 60 school students who took part in the celebrations held at the Delhi zoo to mark the 10th birthday of Vijay, a white tiger. One of the ‘star attractions’ at the zoo, Vijay had hit the headlines in 2014 when it mauled a youth who had jumped into his enclosure. This was the first time that the zoo celebrated the birthday of an inmate.
The zoo authorities had even ordered a cake with ‘Happy Birthday Vijay’ written on it. School students took part in a walk – Walk for Vijay — shouting slogans ‘One step towards Vijay’. A cardboard cut-out of the tiger, with a garland around his neck, was kept in front of the enclosure where children gathered to sing and cut the cake.
“I have never been to such a birthday party before. I want to come back again for his next birthday. Who doesn’t want to attend more such birthday parties?” said Riddhima, who studies in Class 6 at Ramjas School, RK Puram.
Though such programmes to engage visitors are held in zoos across the world, Lucknow zoo was the first to start the trend in India.
The zoo officials, meanwhile, said that this was just the beginning and more such parties would be held in the future to mark the birthdays of the animals. Though this time only around 60 students from one school were invited, the authorities plan to throw a bigger party next time.
“Next in line is Rita. She is a chimpanzee and the oldest member of the zoo. She is 57 years old. We are preparing a list of the animals whose exact date of birth is known,” said Renu Singh, director of the National Zoological Park in New Delhi.
The birthday cat, however, went about its day nonchalantly. Seemingly unimpressed by buzz outside, he focused on his partner Kalpana and their four cubs kept in an adjacent enclosure.
“There won’t be any special treatment for him as we don’t want to disturb his routine and feeding habits. We will just give him some pieces of chicken apart from the daily buffalo meat he takes. It is just a symbolic gesture,” said Singh.
Zoo officials said that Vijay is one of the best breeders in the zoo and has fathered more than six cubs. Vijay was born in the zoo in 2007 to Laxman and Yamuna. While Laxman died in 2009, Vijay’s mother was shifted to the Gwalior zoo around six years back.
“But as July 21 is a Friday this time we decided to celebrate his birthday a day before,” said Raja Ram Singh, joint director of the zoo.