Tuesday’s torrential downpour had the unlikeliest of casualties. Two newborn emu chicks died at the National Zoological Park as rainwater flooded their enclosure.
“The two chicks were born during the rains. The heavy downpour proved fatal,” said a source from the zoo, popularly called Delhi zoo.
There were other eggs being incubated at that time and few of them had hatched around the same time. “As a precaution, zookeepers shifted five more infants to the zoo’s veterinary hospital,” said Riaz Khan, the zoo’s curator (education).
Tuesday was the wettest February day in 70 years as the Capital recorded 46 mm of rainfall, the most in a day since 1942.
Owing to an improved drainage system in 2012, there was not much flooding on the zoo premises this time, but the emu enclosure saw heavy waterlogging, as even the generally dry moats in this and other enclosures were flooded. Incidentally, adult emus can sit in water and are also able to swim.
Emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) are large Australian flightless birds. The female lays up to 20 eggs, which are large and soft green in colour. The male incubates the eggs for a period of 7-8 weeks and does not leave the nest for this period.
This is not the first time that heavy rain took toll of zoo inhabitants. Over two dozen black bucks had died in 2010 after a similar downpour their flooded enclosure was contaminated with overflowing sewer.