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White tiger may land in tight corner

 Even though officials at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo are excited over the imminent arrival of a white tiger from the Delhi zoo, the reality that there just isn’t enough space to house these majestic cats is something the zoo cannot wish away. The zoo now has seven tigers; four of which are male. The oldest tiger is aged 17. One pair is scheduled to be given over to the Nagaland zoo. That still leaves the zoo with five. This number would go up by one when the white tiger is brought over. Ideal situation Under ideal circumstances the city zoo should only house three tigers.


“We are talking about one of the most solitary of animals, one that roams over a vast territory. If we have six tigers we can only let out three at a time and that too if we have two enclosures,” the zoo vet Jacob Alexander told The Hindu . And this is why the zoo is now planning to carve out one more ‘enclosure’ from the current, sprawling facility into which the cats are let out now. “This way we can let out two females in one space and a male in the other,” Dr. Alexander explained.


The fact that a Bengal tiger was killed by its mate recently in Delhi only appears to have added a sense of urgency to the city zoo officials. In fact, the zoo officials have decided to wait for one whole year before allowing the white tiger into the same enclosure with a resident male. Even though the city zoo and its Delhi counterpart had already agreed that they would split the cost of flying over the white tiger, the Delhi zoo reportedly wanted this agreement in writing. Accordingly the city zoo wrote out such an agreement, had it scanned, and emailed the same to the director of the Delhi zoo.


The plan now is to fly down the tiger and fly back a jaguar in the same cage. However, if there occur an undue delay in flying the tiger over, the zoo plans to fetch the animal by road. “We may have to take an air-conditioned van there to bring the tiger over. Bringing a tiger over would be easier compared to transporting deer. We need take far fewer breaks or stops,” Dr. Alexander added. But then, by dividing the present enclosure into two, would the zoo really find an answer to its space problem or would it end up having two cramped facilities for the tigers?


 Hindu, Delhi, Monday 5th May 2014