Ailing Ben on last legs
Sunday , September 6 , 2009
Jamshedpur, Sept. 5: Ben may no longer remain a prized possession of Tata Steel Zoological Park.
The ailing tiger is counting its last days inside a small cage at the veterinary clinic of the zoo, helplessly licking his multiple injury marks.
Already afflicted with a tumour in the belly, the tiger has recently developed serious complications in the kidney and liver. Ben has lost both lower canines and a couple of molar teeth, besides having deformed claws. The tiger is also suffering from swelling in the lymph glands and bed sore.
Worried zoo officials have approached foresters for suggestions about the line of treatment for the 17-plus striped animal.
Ben and his mate Shyamali were brought to Tata Zoo from Karanpindari Rescue Centre in Bilaspur on March 14, 1996. The latter delivered two cubs — Shanti and Basanti — in December 1999.
Basanti was later gifted to the Ranchi zoo. Shyamali, too, has grown old. She’s over 16-year-old and has lost breeding capacity.
“The healing capacity of the tiger has diminished due to old age. Ben is no longer fit to be displayed in the zoo. Besides the tumour in the belly, he has other serious complications. We are hoping for the best but the health of the tiger is deteriorating,” said the zoo veterinary doctor M. Palit.
A.T. Mishra, the divisional forest officer of East Singhbhum, said they have approached the Orissa Veterinary College for necessary guidance.
“Experts from the college are expected to visit the city to examine the ailing tiger and suggest a line of treatment. I am also going to speak to zoo officials today,” he added.
Palit, who has been treating Ben for over two months now, said they were in constant touch with the college. “We shifted the tiger to the cage as it would have developed maggots if kept in the enclosure. Though we are doing our best to treat Ben, we are not very optimistic about his survival. Ben may not last the year,” he told The Telegraph.
Besides routine dressing of wounds, a vitamin B complex injection is administered every second day to the tiger once known for its gracious walk and huge roar.
Doses of electoral powder and Glucon-D are also a routine affair. “We have stopped giving antibiotics to Ben as it would aggravate the wounds,” Palit added.
According to him, the tiger’s diet has been drastically reduced. “Ben used to devour a 10-kg buffalo daily but now the consumption ability has come down to 2-3kg,” he said.
Shedding light on the life span of tigers, Palit said that tigers in the wild live for 14-15 years and those in captivity for 16 years.