Gifts, cake and a happy birthday for three white tigers! (Lead)

August 1st, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 1 (IANS) They may be captive white tigers but Rishi, Sitesh and Prachi turned four years old in style as thousands of people poured into Orissa’s Nandankanan zoo to wish them a happy birthday Friday and learn lessons on conservation. “When we cut a special birthday cake for the tigers inside the zoo, more than 300 schoolchildren conveyed their best wishes,” said Ajit Patnaik, director of the zoo located on the outskirts of the state capital.

Among them were 50 children, who marched into the zoo wearing tiger masks and shouting “save the tiger” slogans. They wished the tigers a happy birthday from outside the two enclosures housing the big cats.

“The zoo attracts around 3,000 visitors on a normal day but today the number was around 4,500,” zoo director Patnaik told IANS.

A big display board was put at the reception along with messages inside and outside of the zoo, highlighting the birthday.

As birthday gifts, new furniture was placed in the enclosures of the tigers - a bench and a cot for them to rest on and wooden logs to have the pleasure of digging in their claws!

“The tigers were also given a good bath and a special treat of chicken by their keepers. Otherwise on a regular basis, they are given buffalo meat.”

“We also disseminated information in Oriya and English at the enclosures to generate awareness and general information on the tiger, its status and conservation efforts,” he said.

White tigers are endangered animals. At present, there are only about 200 white tigers in the world. Nandankanan was established in 1960 and is home to 27 tigers, including 10 white ones.

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