Johannesburg - Panjo the pet Bengal tiger from Groblersdal, Limpopo, celebrated his fifth birthday in style this week, racking up a bill of over R10 000.
At least 80 people attended the spitbraai affair on Sunday, with some guests staying overnight.
Panjo did not get a birthday cake, but he got to devour three chickens and some beef.
“We sang happy birthday to him, and he was quite happy, but he looked at everyone quite funny,” said Justin Fernandes, son of Goosey Fernandes who raised Panjo since he was a three-week-old cub.
This was the first birthday Panjo had ever celebrated. The party cost between R10 000 to R15 000, said Fernandes.
Another similar party was held in November for another tiger at the family's game farm, Jugomaro.
“We are planning on having a birthday bash for each cat here because they are all special to us,” said Fernandes.
Panjo made headlines in July 2010, and gave his family a scare when he escaped from a bakkie while being transported to a vet for vaccinations. He was found after a large-scale search.
Jugomaro is home to several animals including tigers, lions, wolves and caracals. On the farm's website, photos show Panjo wandering around the house, sitting on the kitchen counter, lying on the couch, and playing with the dogs.
During Panjo's brief escape in 2010, when Goosey Fernandes realised he was gone, he fell to his knees, phoned his wife and said: “Dear God, Panjo’s gone”, he told Sapa at the time. After a two-day search, Panjo was found in the bushes near Verena, Mpumalanga.
“He was frightened, terrified. I lured him with a piece of rump steak… but he knew me already,” said Fernandes. - Sapa