Visitors to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park can now enjoy a rare and interesting sighting of ‘black’ tiger cubs that are three-months-old. They will be placed in an enclosure with their mother Namrutha, which is a white Bengal tigress.
“Melanistic or ‘black’ tigers are a rare variant in the species and can be distinguishes by stripes that are so thick and close together that the tawny background is barely visible. It is caused when the amount of melanin pigments is high,” explains Dr Manoharan, a wildlife veterinarian. “It doesn’t affect the animal’s health in any way because it is just another genetic characteristic, like a human having curly hair.” Since their birth, the black tiger cubs were kept them under observation to monitor their health and behaviour. Once everything was declared normal after following protocol, the zoo officials decided to display them. “When people come to visit these animals, a sincere request is that they maintain discipline,” says Sudha.
Wildlife filmmaker Kalyan Varma said, this phenomenon is quite uncommon. “As far as I know, a similar instance was witnessed in the Similipal Tiger Reserve, Odisha, long ago when a trap camera recorded a mother and her cubs.”