THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A team from the city zoo is headed for Delhi to bring home a suitable mate for Malar, the white tigress. The male white tiger at Nehru Zoological Park, New Delhi, Shravan, is only distantly related to Malar, assure zoo authorities.
The distance matters, since white tigers across the country have suffered from the ills of inbreeding. The Delhi zoo has been witness to white tiger cubs born with arched backs and clubbed feet in 1987. The Delhi government had established a moratorium on the breeding of white tigers, and it were some years before it was lifted.
Zoo authorities here were originally planning to mate Malar with an orange tiger from the zoo. They later discarded the plan because there was only a fifty per cent chance that the offspring would be a white tiger. “The offspring of the second generation could turn out to be a white tiger. But for that to become a reality, we might have to breed too many tigers in the zoo. CZA does not support this,” says zoo vet Dr Jacob Alexander.
Thiruvananthapuram zoo has had numerous discussions with the Delhi zoo and CZA, regarding the transfer of a second white tiger. Initially, the Delhi zoo was keen to give away goral, but CZA did not approve of it as the goral was not in the Thiruvananthapuram zoo’s collection plan. Now the white tiger is the only animal that will be arriving from Delhi.
As part of the exchange pact, the Thiruvananthapuram zoo will trade a pair of spectacled caiman, a pair of Rhea, a pair of Brown fish owl, two pairs of Brahminy kite, three pairs of barn owl and five bonnet macaques to the Delhi zoo.
Shravan is currently around two years’ old. In the years he will take to mature, he will get to befriend Malar. The young tiger will be put in Malar’s cage, while Malar will be moved to a cage adjacent to it.
The team headed for Delhi consists of zoo superintendent, a doctor from the Thrissur zoo, a zoo supervisor, a carpenter and a couple of animal keepers. The carpenter will readjust the cages to make sufficient space for the tiger.
“The team is expected to reach Delhi before Tuesday. They will set out from Delhi after five days,” said Zoo Director K Gangadharan. The second white tiger will reach Thiruvananthapuram before Onam.