M A I N   N E W S

Two white tigers die at Chhat Bir
Donald Banerjee and Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 20
Two white tigers died under mysterious circumstances today bringing an end to the white tiger population at Chhat Bir Zoo. The death of the young ‘white couple’ sent shockwaves in wildlife conservation circles.

The first shock was felt when the zoo keeper found the male tiger, Saurabh, dead in the enclosure. The tigress, Deeya, also appeared not in her normal composure. Saurabh’s death saw the Conservator of Forests and Wildlife, Mr Kuldeep Kumar, rushing to the zoo.

Barely eight hours after Saurabh’s death Deeya breathed her last around 11 a.m.

The double tragedy befell the zoo despite the presence of the veterinary staff of the zoo headed by the veterinary doctor, Dr M.P. Singh. Witness to Deeya’s death was a shocked Mr Kuldeep Kumar.

The two deaths came at a time the zoo authorities were still trying to overcome the death of Prerna, the Royal Bengal tigress, on Monday. Prerna had given birth to another white tiger, Julie, who died in 2000.

A lioness also died on Monday because of old age.

Saurabh was acquired from Aurangabad in December, 2005, while Deeya was born at the zoo on May 30, 2003.

The death of four big cats in just three days is a big tragedy. And to top it two of them were rare white tigers, barely three years old.

A team of doctors from Punjab Agricultural University and the panel of zoo doctors conducted a post mortem on the two white tigers.

Mr Kuldeep Kumar said he was shocked at the death of the white tigers. “We reared Deeya when she was a cub. We really worked hard on her upbringing. And now when we were looking for results, she had died. It is a big shock”.

He said the post mortem result was yet to come. But promised to let us know the moment it arrived.

“There are no words to express this tragedy”, said the Field Director, Mr Dharminder Sharma, who remained at the zoo till late in the evening.

The tragedy brings to the fore the lack of veterinary services in the zoo. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, himself a wildlife lover and Chairman of the Punjab Wildlife Board, needs to look into this tragedy.

Wildlife lovers still remember the tragic death of eight white tigers at the Nandan Kanan Zoo about six years back.



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