A bengal tiger roaming around the outskirts of the city of Bhubaneswar in India had residents in a panic recently. However, as it turns out, the wild animal was just looking for a little love.
According to local reports, the tiger walked into the Nandankanan zoo from a nearby forest and found its way to a tigress' habitat. The tiger had been circling the enclosure, an action zoo officials said indicates his desire to mate.
As the Press Trust of India reports, the zoological park had prepared a 20-man team to capture the vagrant animal after locals became concerned. But, it seems, all the zoo had to do was leave the door unlocked. The wild animal managed to wander into the zoo's tiger safari own his own around 12:30 a.m. Monday, after which workers quickly shut the gate in order to keep him enclosed.
"This is a very rare incident of a wild animal entering a zoo premises," Nandankanan Zoo Director Sudarshan Panda told India's Times News Network. "We have informed the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Chief Wildlife Warden, who will take a decision on whether to keep the animal at Nandankanan or shift it to wild habitat."
This specific tiger, estimated to be 7 years old, has actually been spotted several times in recent months. So, to track his movement, the zoo set up cameras and monitored the CCTV footage.
"We found that the tiger was moving close to the enclosure of a tigress Sara and we believe it may have been attracted by the female," Deputy Director Chitta Ranjan Mishra told The New Indian Express. "Since the enclosure is located close to the safari, we decided to keep a watch on it and opened the emergency gate."
Since protocol mandates that stray tigers be released, Chief Wildlife Warden Janardan Dibakar Sharma told The New Indian Express that the government plans to release the lonely tiger back into the wild.
Surprisingly, this is not the first time a tiger has walked into the Nandankanan zoo. Mishra told the Times News Network, a tigress entered the premises in 1967 and remained at the zoo. The safari currently contains 24 tigers.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are less than 2,500 bengal tigers remaining, with most concentrated in India. Though they once roamed the continent freely, the endangered species now face several threats from poaching to loss of habitat and prey.