Swati, the oldest tiger in captivity in the country, died in the Assam State Zoo here in the wee hours of Sunday, with officials saying she died of old age. Swati would have been 21 in January. “Swati was the oldest living tiger till she breathed her last in the wee hours of Sunday. She was not keeping good health for the past few days. She was under special care for quite some time now, and was also failing in eyesight apart from losing weight. She passed away at around 2 AM on Sunday,” Tejas Mariswamy, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in charge of the Assam State Zoo here, told The Indian Express. The carcass of the tigress was incarcerated inside the Zoo premises in the afternoon.
Born in Mysore Zoo in 1998, Swati was brought to Guwahati in 2005 even as she had already given birth to five cubs there. In Guwahati, the Royal Bengal Tigress gave birth to six more cubs, of which Birina – also a tigress is currently in the Assam State Zoo here. While two others born in Guwahati had died in the past few years, one each are currently in the Tata Zoological Park in Jamshedpur and the Nandanvan Zoo in Raipur (Chattisgarh), DFP Mariswamy said.
While WWF India has put the average life span of a Royal Bengal tiger in the wild between 14 and 16 years, those in captivity have an average life span of 18. Guddu, a Royal Bengal tiger that had passed away in the Kanpur Zoo in 2014, however is known to have lived up to 26 years.
With the death of Swati, the Assam State Zoo here is left with four tigers – two Royal Bengal Tigers and two white tigers –, with DFO Mariswamy pointing out all four are females. “We are in the process of acquiring a male tiger soon,” he said. Lachit, a male Royal Bengal Tiger that was born in the Assam State Zoo here of Swati in 2009, had died only on June 27 due to encephalitis.