‘Mischievous’ Bengal tiger released in enclosure after 6 years of ‘punishment’

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Published: January 4, 2020 2:59:12 PM

Range Officer Saurabh Vashishtha says when Bittu was first released in the enclosure, he climbed a tree. "It could have been a security threat to visitors," he says.

The zoo also got a 3-year-old white tiger, Vijay, recently. Though Vijay was brought from Lucknow in July in exchange of a female tiger named Geeta, he was released in the enclosure on Wednesday, Buxy says.

Ten-year-old Bengal tiger Bittu spent six years in a cage in the Delhi Zoo before he could step out in his enclosure and breathe fresh air. But the Christmas Day was not the first time the Zoo administration let B2 or Bittu out of the cage. He was released in the enclosure twice before, so that he could take a stroll and relax in the sun. But his “mischievous” behaviour cost him his “freedom”, Zoo Director Suneesh Buxy says. B2 or Bittu was 4-year-old when he was brought to Delhi from Bhopal’s Van Vihar National Park under an animal exchange programme in 2014.

Range Officer Saurabh Vashishtha says when Bittu was first released in the enclosure, he climbed a tree. “It could have been a security threat to visitors,” he says. “We released him in the enclosure again after a few days, but he tried to climb over the cage. Sensing danger, we put him inside the cage again,” Vashishtha says. Bittu was released in the enclosure again on December 25. This time, the zoo administration has raised the height of the fences, pruned the branches of the trees inside the enclosure so that he cannot climb them and added an extra layer of barricading for visitors.

The zoo also got a 3-year-old white tiger, Vijay, recently. Though Vijay was brought from Lucknow in July in exchange of a female tiger named Geeta, he was released in the enclosure on Wednesday, Buxy says. “The aggressive, 9-feet tiger was observed closely for 6 months before he was released in the enclosure,” he says. At present, the zoo has seven white tigers — three female and four male — and two male Royal Bengal tigers. The zoo is likely to acquire a pair of ostrich from Chandigarh’s Chhatbir Zoo and a chimpanzee within next three months. It had in September lost an eight-year-old Bengal tiger, Rama, due to kidney failure. In October, it lost India’s “oldest” chimpanzee, Rita, 59, following multiple organ failure.

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