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Oldest tiger dies, Delhi Zoo to start breeding

Ashpreet Sethi, New Delhi, Dec 3, 2012, DHNS: 0:53 IST
Delhi Zoo will soon start breeding white and Bengal tigers for which a new cage is being constructed. It is likely to be completed by the end of December.

Zoo officials said breeding of tigers was not done earlier at the Delhi Zoo due to lack of space.

“We are planning to put glass panes for visitors to see tigers even during their breeding period. Since Naresh (male Bengal tiger) has died we are planning to mate Ramu (another Bengal male tiger) with one of the tigresses,” said zoo curatorR A Khan.
Outlived others

Twenty-year-old Naresh was the oldest tiger in the zoo. His health declined rapidly on Saturday leading to his death. However, he outlived the average lifespan of his species which in captivity is 16 to 18 years.

“Ramu is old as he must be nearly 18 years old now. So if he is not able to breed, we will try to initiate a mixed breed with the white tigers. There is not much difference between their living and eating habits so it is possible to breed Bengal and white tigers,” added Khan.

The tigresses are ready for mating as they are now above seven years of age.

“We plan to get a wild-caught tiger from another zoo for their breeding as initially we had 14 white ones but gave away seven to other zoos recently in an exchange programme,” said Khan.

Zoo officials have increased the diet to 12 to 13 kilos for these tigers and other big cats for better mating.

“During summer, each eats only ten kilos of meat daily, but during the winter, they eat about 12 kilos of meat,” said Khan. There are 10 tigers, both Bengal and White, of which only two are males while rest are females.

Heaters have also been provided to lions and tigers as part of the winter arrangements.
Close to 150 heaters are currently being used in the zoo to protect the animals, and wooden platforms and hay have been spread for the reptiles.
Meanwhile, avians from Siberia and southeast Asia, have already started nesting but more migratory birds are expected to turn up in next two months.

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