CHENNAI: A five-month-old, male tiger cub at the Vandalur Zoo does not have a name – only because it has not yet got chief minister E K Palaniswami’s appointment for the naming ceremony. The cub, abandoned by its mother Uthra a day after its birth in September 2018, is being hand-reared by zookeepers.
The link between Palaniswami and a cub at Asia’s largest zoo traces back to September 2010, when then CM M Karunanidhi, for the first time, visited the zoo and named a male and two female tiger cubs Sembian, Indra and Valli respectively. His successor Jayalalithaa followed his footsteps by naming two white tiger cubs Rama and Chandra after her political mentor M G Ramachandran. She had named 17 animals at the zoo, including tiger and lion cubs.
In October 2017, Palaniswami, during his maiden visit to the zoo as the CM, named an 8-month-old lion cub Vishnu. In July 2018, he named a female lion cub Jaya, showing his loyalty to his political mentor Jayalalithaa. Sembian and Jaya now respond to their names.
A zookeeper on condition of anonymity said naming animals early is important to train them, otherwise, they have to whistle or call out loudly to get their attention.