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3 Bengal tigers for Zoo

By Miranda La Rose Saturday, December 21 2013

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Royal tigers: Three Bengal tigers, two yellow and a white, are to join the Emperor Valley Zoo in January....
Royal tigers: Three Bengal tigers, two yellow and a white, are to join the Emperor Valley Zoo in January....

The Emperor Valley Zoo will boost its attractions with the expected arrival of three Bengal tigers, including a rare white female, on January 15. The two yellow tigers are male and female.

Bengal tigers are indigenous to the Indian sub-continent but the three heading to Trinidad were bred in captivity in the Northern Province of South Africa.

They are expected to cost US$25,000 each (TT$161,000), according to president of the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago Gupte Lutchmedial.

The costs include purchase of the animals, transportation, veterinary care, permits among other things. Payments for the tigers are not being borne by Government’s subvention to the society, Lutchmedial said, explaining the Zoological Society has had to source its own funding to acquire them.

The tigers, which are about nine months old, will be shipped through London. They were ordered since 2009, but had to meet a number of requirements, including accommodation, feed and veterinary care, before they could have been shipped.

They should have arrived in Trinidad at an earlier date, Lutchmedial said but due to pending permits and expensive tests conducted on the animals they could not get here before January.

The tigers will initially be housed in old cages that previously accommodated two Siberian tigers — which died naturally in the 1990s after more than 20 years at the zoo — but more spacious accommodation involving a 260-foot long and 40-foot wide enclosure under construction for them.

“It will be the largest enclosure in the zoo,” he said. In preparation to feed the tigers, Lutchmedial said the zoo has its own farm on which it is raising buffaloes, sheep and goat to supplement the horse meat provided by the horse racing industry. Why purchase the Bengal tigers from South Africa and not the United States which is nearer to TT? Lutchmedial said the bloodline of those in South Africa is purer. They are three and four generation animals bred in captivity.

Looking to the future, he said if the tigers could breed locally, the possibility exists that the local zoo could also trade in animals with other zoos in South and Central America.

According to the online website “a-z-animals”, the white tiger is a rare pigmentation variant of the yellow Bengal tiger. They tend to be bigger at birth and as fully grown adults than the normal coloured tigers without the white gene. The grown white tiger can weigh as much as 300 kilogrammes and reach a height of three metres.

The more common yellow Bengal tiger, also known as the Royal Bengal tigers, is the national animal of Bangladesh.

The Bengal tiger is the most numerous tiger subspecies. Its populations have been estimated at 1,706 to 1,909 in India, 440 in Bangladesh, 163 to 253 in Nepal and 67 to 81 in Bhutan. Since 2010, it has been classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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