The 25th birthday of Raja, a male Royal Bengal Tiger currently lodged at South Khayerbari Animal Rescue Centre in north Bengal was celebrated in a grand manner on Monday by the state forest department and state zoo authority, a senior forest official said.
He is the oldest tiger in captivity in the state and hails from Sunderbans.
The forest department on its website has posted updates about Raja, conducted an online quiz on tigers, and an online drawing competition for children.
Asked if a cake will be cut on this special occasion, the official smiled.
“There will be Happy Birthday posters and balloons outside his enclosure,” he added.
The animal had been rescued after being injured in a crocodile attack while crossing a creek in Sajnekhali area of Sunderbans , the official told PTI.
“After rescuing him on this date in 2008, we had assessed that he was then 12 years old. We celebrate August 23 as his birthday,” the official said.
He said treating Raja, who spent his time in the wilderness for 12 years of his life, was a challenge as one of his limbs was severed in the crocodile attack.
Initially, he was treated in Alipore Zoo hospital, and later shifted to the South Khayerbari Animal Rescue Centre in Alipurduar district, 800 km from Kolkata.
“Credit goes to Raja for adjusting to the situation and to the diet of mutton with liver. At times, chicken is given to add variety. He should also be credited for learning to walk with a prosthetic limb in place of the severed one, under the watch of our keepers, other forest personnel who were guided by a four-member team of vets,” he said.
When asked for the reason behind christening him ‘Raja”, who responds to the name when addressed by keepers, the official said “he looks majestic and Royal. Hence he is called Raja, the king of the jungle.”
“As I said, it was a challenge for us to bring him back to the prime of health after his grave injury and also to make a wild animal, who was used to roaming around in the wild and preying on deer and monkeys, adapt to the conditions in captivity. We are happy that we were successful on both counts,” he added.
State Forest Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick is known to take keen interest in the tiger.
Raja is the solitary tiger in the rescue centre that presently houses several leopards.
The South Khayerbari Animal Rescue Centre is under Jaldapara Forest division.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)