27-year-old rare leopard in Tirupati zoo dies
A leopard with unique characteristics and is said to be the only one of its kind, died of old age and prolonged illness at Sri Venkateswara Zoological...
A leopard with unique characteristics and is said to be the only one of its kind, died of old age and prolonged illness at Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park here on Tuesday. The 27-year-old leopard, Balaji, had been in the zoo for more than 15 years.
Known for its gentle manners towards visitors, particularly children, Balaji had been a household name in the pilgrim town. According to veterinary doctors of Sri Venkateswara Veterinary College who conducted autopsy on the big cat, Balaji died due to respiratory problems. The Zoo Park curator Saravanan, said for the past few weeks breathing had become difficult and in the last two days Balaji had been on liquid diet.
Balaji was caught by Zoo staff on February 22, 1998 while sneaking into the SV Zoo Park from Tirumala forest range. It was immediately named as Balaji and its age was estimated at around 12 years and it weighed about 113 kg. Zoo curator Saravanan said Balaji's lifespan of 27 years and its weight of 143 kg was a wonder in the annals of wildlife history. The normal lifespan of leopards is between 12 and 15 years and weigh below 75 kg.
He said Balaji's progeny Ayyappa is now with Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Animals, a wing of CCMB (Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology), Hyderabad, for research purposes, and Lakshman is at the Tirupati zoo.
Zoo watcher Selva Kumar, who took care of the animal for 15 years, said, "It was like a sadhu, sitting on a rock in the enclosure most of the time, in behaviour and food habits. Balaji was cremated at the foot of Tirumala hills, from where it had come.