December 24, 2008 / 10:55 AM / 11 years ago

Zookeepers put tubby tigers on a diet

A tiger relaxes after its meal at Central Zoo in Kathmandu December 24, 2008. Authorities in Nepal said on Wednesday that they had stopped feeding tigers in the country's only zoo for one day in a week to keep the wild cats slim. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Authorities in Nepal said on Wednesday they have stopped feeding tigers in the country’s only zoo for one day a week to keep them from piling on the pounds.

One of three fat cats at Jawalakhel zoo in the Nepali capital now weighs in at about 220 kg (485 pounds), having gained 40 kg on a diet of buffalo meat in just eight months.

The diet for “Kancha,” which means “the youngest child,” and two other Royal Bengal tigers is enforced in consultation with foreign zoos which also have a tight feeding regime for the endangered animals.

“We don’t give the tigers anything to eat on Saturdays except water,” zoo official Binad Karmacharya said.

“The practice of feeding tigers for six days a week is good for their health.”

An adult of the species can weigh up to a majestic 300 kg (660 pounds).

There are only about 4,000 tigers left in the wild worldwide, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 2008 estimates. The survival of the wild cat is threatened due to loss of habitat, poaching and illegal trade in tiger parts.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Matthias Williams and Sugita Katyal

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