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Assam Zoo Celebrates Birth of Two Black Panther Cubs

Assam Zoo is now the only zoo in the country to have a black panther family of four, and a total of six black panthers in captivity including the newborns.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:September 10, 2018, 2:01 PM IST
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Assam Zoo Celebrates Birth of Two Black Panther Cubs
Mohan and Meena, the Black Panthers in the Assam Zoo.
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Assam zoo celebrated the birth of two Black Panther cubs to Meena and Mohan on Saturday.

Mohan, the male black panther, was raised in a zoo after being rescued five years ago from Dumduma in Tinsukia district. He was about one and a half month old then and was hand-raised by zoo staff.

Meena was rescued by the state forest department in Khowang Range of Dibrugarh in May 2017 and brought to the zoo. The big cat had strayed into the villages and was severely injured when people cornered and attacked her. Assam Zoo is now the only zoo in the country to have a family of four black panthers, and a total of six black panthers in captivity, including the cubs.

“Meena and Mohan were paired in April this year. They share a great bond together and now are parents to two beautiful cubs. The zoo fraternity is extremely delighted and had a small celebration yesterday,” said the zoo's divisional forest officer Tejas Mariswamy. The mother and her cubs are doing well, and will be secluded from public view, he added.

“The father is currently separated from the mother and her cubs. Sometimes, the male can get wild and kill the cubs. The mother and the cubs are good and healthy. Meena is taking good care of the baby cubs. She was brought here in a critical condition after a mob injured her badly. To have saved her and now see her capable of delivering new life is a great success. We are extremely happy. I am very happy with the efforts put by the doctors and animal keepers.”

A black panther is the melanistic colour variant of any big cat species. In Asia and Africa, melanism occurs among five subspecies of leopards. In Assam though, the leopard remains a poorly attended species.

“There is a sizeable leopard population in Upper Assam, especially in the tea garden areas. But there is no proper census data of leopard population in Assam. Even if the forest department takes the initiative of counting leopards, people coming to know of their presence would put pressure on the department to catch the big cats,” said P Sivakumar, chief conservator of forests in northern Assam circle.

Earlier, four leopards were killed in the state. Last month, a leopard was brutally killed by villagers in Nazira of Assam’s Charaideo district after the big cat strayed into the human territory.
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