White tigress gives birth to 3 cubs in Vandalur zoo
25 Mar 2009, 0239 hrs IST, D Madhavan, TNN
For Information About White TIgers Visit: http://bigcatrescue.org/cats/wild/white_tigers.htm
CHENNAI: Set up in 1855 as India’s first zoological park, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur, 31 km south of Chennai, made history on Tuesday when five-year-old white tigress, Anusuya, gave birth to three cubs. The only zoo in Tamil Nadu to have a pair of white tigers, Vandalur has now scored another first with its successful captive breeding of the white tiger.
It was only a few days ago that two digital video cameras were installed at the enclosure to monitor the delivery. Early on Tuesday, zookeepers noticed the cubs as they kept a watch on the video cameras. After Anusuya conceived, it took her 104 days to deliver her litter.
Tigers are solitary animals and like to be left alone, especially when breeding. Zoo authorities took painstaking efforts to ensure that Anusuya was left undisturbed during her pregnancy. No visitors were allowed to the enclosure for more than two months. Anusuya arrived at the zoo 18 months ago, along with her companion six-year-old Bhismar, another white tiger. Both were from the National Zoological Park in New Delhi.
“It’ll take several days for the young ones to come out into the open. Efforts have been taken to keep the area quiet,” PL Ananthasamy, chief conservator of forests, and director, Arignar Anna Zoological Park, told TOI on Tuesday. To reduce the summer heat, the enclosure had been covered with wet gunny bags. Except on Tuesdays when the tigers are made to fast, they are fed 7kg of beef daily.
Zoologists say India has nearly 100 white tigers (Panthera Tigris). The Nandan Kanan zoo in Orissa, the world’s largest habitat for white tigers, has 34 of them. Most of the white tigers were born through captive breeding.
The white tiger measures up to 13 feet from nose to tip of tail; the female is slightly smaller. The male weighs about 200-300 kg, the female about 50 kg less. Their average lifespan is about 10 years in the wild, but double that in captivity. White tigers reach sexual maturity when they are about four years old. On average, one to six cubs are produced in a litter. Compared to normal tigers, white tigers tend to be larger at birth as well as in adulthood.