Lack of space delays Shiva's display

Lack of space delays Shiva's display

Almost anybody who has heard of Shiva, the tiger that earned the reputation of being a man-eater, wonders if they can catch a glimpse of him when they visit the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, popularly known as Mysore Zoo.

Although the Zoo is making all out efforts to put him on display at the soonest, Shiva continues to be confined to the 15x10 ft enclosure, which has been his home for the last six months. The Zoo, which is currently overstocked with tigers, is struggling to create space for Shiva, who will until then have to make do with solitary confinement.

The tiger, which was fighting for its life when he was captured in December, 2013, has made good progress in the last few months.

Hygroma

His injuries have healed, and he is no more malnourished. When he was brought in, the 13-year-old tiger was scrawny, and weighed about 120 kg. At 200 kg, he is now alert, and strong. However, owing to restricted movement and no exercise, the tiger has developed hygroma on the joint of his front right limb, which he is now being treated for. Hygroma, is a fluid-filled sac that is formed on the joints of animals as a result of repeated pressure, which comes from sitting on a hard surface.

B P Ravi, Zoo's Executive Director said that the Zoo was currently housing 13 tigers, but had only nine holding rooms. "Although we have been giving away tigers to other Zoos, we are still lacking  space to put Shiva on display. There were plans to move a couple of aged tigers to enclosures at the hospital in the Zoo, but the animal care-takers here are not too happy with the idea. We don't want to confine tigers to such small enclosures. Once the Koorgalli Breeding, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center becomes functional, we will move a couple of tigers there. But, as a stop gap arrangement, we will move one of the older tigers to a smaller enclosure, and put Shiva on display in the next few days," he said.

The Koorgalli center, which is under construction on the outskirts of Mysore, is said to be readied in a couple of months.

Dr Suresh, Zoo veterinarian, who is treating Shiva, said that the hygroma had been successfully removed, and that the wound had almost healed. He said that tigers Kaveri, 18, or Agasthya, 16, might be moved to smaller enclosures to make space for Shiva.

Bloodline

Dr Suresh is also keen on pairing Shiva with a female tiger immediately, in a bid to introduce a wild gene pool in Zoo. "With Shiva, we have an opportunity of introducing a new bloodline, especially of a wild tiger. Earlier, the pairing has usually been with a wild male and a captive bred female, or vice-versa. Manya, the white tigress, seems like an ideal mate for Shiva. If not her, then we might pair him with Anasuya, who was rescued five years ago in Chikmagalur," he said. 

Having successfully nursed him back to health, it is not surprising to see Dr Suresh, who has developed a personal attachment to Shiva, talk about him with a sense of pride.

 "It is not just the media who wants to hear about him. Almost every senior officer who visits the Zoo wants to come and take a look at him. The visitors too are very eager to see him. Recently, a few visitors had driven down from Kodagu to the Zoo to specifically see Shiva. He is no doubt a celebrity tiger. It was a good decision not to have shot him dead during the rescue operation," he said.

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