Lifestyle Environment 04 Nov 2016 New guests at Thiruv ...

New guests at Thiruvananthapuram zoo; twin Nilgais are born

Published Nov 4, 2016, 6:57 am IST
Updated Nov 4, 2016, 7:08 am IST
Of the two, one is a male calf
Nilgais with the calves in the zoo on Thursday. (Photo:  DC)
 Nilgais with the calves in the zoo on Thursday. (Photo: DC)

Thiruvananthapuram: An Indian Nilgai gave birth to twins  in the  Thiruvananthapuram  zoo on Thursday.  Normally, that would have meant glad tidings, but in this case, since it is a male and a female calf, zoo authorities are anxious that the female could be sterile. “There is a chance that the female calf could be a free-martin or infertile. This happens because the male would have released testosterone inside the uterus, which goes into circulation and impairs the development of female gonads,” says Dr Jacob Alexander, zoo veterinarian surgeon.

It is not uncommon for Nilgais to bear twins. Dr Jacob says that this is because the uterus in Nilgais is shaped like two horns. If ovaries on both sides ovulate, then there will be twins. So far, zoo officials have not gone near the calves but observing them from a distance. Since twins do not have sufficient body reserves and need to share their mother’s milk, the survival of the animals is difficult. The little ones have not been named, and will be monitored for six months.


The species has no conservation value. In fact various state governments in North India wanted permission to cull the animals, as the species in growing numbers was  destroying crops. The Ministry of Environment and Forests had pronounced it a vermin in December 2015, while Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had criticised the government. Zoo authorities included the species in the zoo’s master plan for educational purposes as there is no Nilgai in South India. Other than the two newborns, there are five Nilgais – four females and one male.


Location: India, Kerala