With the death of nearly 70 spotted deer among other animals in the 2016 summer, authorities of the National Zoological Park in Delhi are gearing up for the harsh summers of 2017 and taking full precautions this year to ensure that animals do not die of heat related ailments or any disease outbreak.
To beat the heat, the authorities will introduce fruits, sugar-free kheer and mineral supplements as a part of the diet of zoo inmates along with installation of coolers, fans and water sprinklers in cages and enclosures.
In 2016, the zoo lost nearly 50% of its spotted deer population. Even though it was initially thought that the deer died after drinking sewage water, post-mortem reports confirmed that quite a few died because of rabies. The rest could have died of heat-related ailments.
“There are no dogs inside the campus. So we suspect that it could have been spread by some infected mongoose. As the disease spreads through saliva, it might have spread after the infected deer licked the others’ wounds,” said a zoo official.
- Watermelon and bael to be given to fruit-eating animals
- Sugar-free kheer for bear, langur and chimpanzees
- Reduce diet of lion and tigers to 10kg from 12kg
- Replace breads with rice
- Vitamin and mineral supplements for most animals
- Water holes to be filled with water mixed with oral rehydration solutions
- Coolers, fans and water sprinklers in cages
- Treat wounds immediately
- Anti-rabies vaccination of deers
This time, however, not only have the zoo authorities vaccinated the spotted deer and sambar deer population they have also covered up the holes in the enclosures where mongooses could take shelter.
The Indian Meteorological Department has already forecasted that the 2017 summer will be harsher and the next couple of months will see above normal temperatures.
“This summer is very crucial for us, as in the last summer there was a heavy death toll. We have already drawn up the summer management plan. We have made some changes in the diet and taken up a series of measures to keep the animals cool,” said the official.
While animals such as bear, langur and chimpanzees would be fed with sugar-free kheer, the daily meat-intake of large carnivores such as lions and tigers are being reduced from 12kg a day to around 10kg a day. Breads and rotis are being replaced with rice.
The fruit-eaters, including birds and monkeys, would be given watermelons and bael mostly because both these fruits help keep the body cool and also increase the body’s water content.
“Most of the animals would be given vitamin and mineral supplements and the waterholes in all the cages would be filled up with water mixed with oral rehydration solutions,” said the official.
Coolers, fans and water sprinklers would be used to keep the cages cool and moist. Lawn nets would be also put up to provide shade from the scorching sun.
“Taking lessons from last year’s outbreak we have also planned to separate the deer herds in at least two enclosures so that in case of an outbreak the entire population is not affected,” said the official.
Zoo keepers have also been asked to remain extra vigilant and report if any deer or herbivore suffers any injuries because of fighting among themselves.
“An untreated wound in the peak summer season could trigger several diseases. Maggots too set in early during the summer,” he added.
Recently, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has alerted all zoos across India to take preventive measures to avert a possible outbreak of Trypanosomiasis – a protozoan disease that has, in the past, killed more than a dozen tigers and leopards in Indian zoos.