Zoo authorities celebrate the fifth birthday of white tigers — Vijay, Sony, and Bethany

The fifth birthday of three white tigers — Vijay, Sony, and Bethany — was celebrated by authorities at Indira Gandhi Zoological Park here on Wednesday.

This is the first time for the over four-decade-old zoo to celebrate the birthday of any animal.

The white tiger enclosure was specially decorated with balloons and flowers, and a flexi was put up announcing the birthday celebrations.

On Tuesday evening, SMSs were sent to various organisations working for the welfare of animals and to schools.

Despite the short time, a small, but enthusiastic crowd, gathered much before the celebrations were scheduled to begin outside the enclosure at 10 a.m. The crowd grew restless as there was no sign of the ‘birthday’ tigers in the day crawl even after a long wait. The gathering included a few tourists from West Bengal.

Finally, ‘Vijay’ emerged from the night shelter and walked a few steps majestically to the delight of the gathering. Sony and Bethany were not released immediately as the zoo authorities ruled that allowing all the three into the day crawl at the same time would result in rivalry amongst the siblings.

Children waved at Vijay in glee as their elders aimed their mobile cams at him to catch the perfect picture.

The zoo employees distributed toffees, and a cake was cut and distributed among the gathering. The ‘birthday’ tigers received gifts worth nearly Rs.3 lakh!

Vidya Shankar of Visakhapatnam, who is in the U.S., donated Rs.1.09 lakh to meet the food requirements of ‘Shirish’, the father of the three white tigers, for one year.

Zoo curator B. Vijay Kumar took the lead by donating of Rs.10,000 towards the upkeep of the animals. His wife Sneha presented a cheque for the amount to assistant curator Mashady. Zoo doctor Srinivas also donated Rs.10,000.

Members of the public also donated.

“The objective of organising the birthday is to motivate the people to safeguard and protect wild animals,” the curator said. CMR Group Managing Director M.V. Ramana and Dr. Srinivas spoke.

Mr. Ramana promised to adopt Vijay and bear his expenses for a year.

Schoolchildren, who participated in the birthday celebrations, were an excited lot.

Some of them insisted on their parents to give them whatever they could to donate for the upkeep of the wild animals. Prerana S. Madan, a student of Sri Prakash Vidyaniketan, donated Rs.1,000 and her painting on wildlife to the zoo. “I received the message through the JCI (Junior Chamber International) and I am very much excited to be here,” she said.