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Wolf from Mysuru dies of snake bite at Delhi Zoo

Although rare, this is, however, not the first time an animal has died in the Delhi zoo because of snake bite. In September 2007, a Rhino died of a snake bite.

delhi Updated: May 21, 2019 07:52 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
endangered species,animals,delhi zoo
Zoo officials said that not only are such cases rare in the Delhi zoo, but this incident is a huge loss for the facility as the wolf was brought specifically for breeding. (HTphoto)

A male wolf brought to Delhi’s National Zoological Park from the Mysuru Zoo in March died of snake bite earlier this month.

Zoo officials said that not only are such cases rare in the Delhi zoo, but this incident is a huge loss for the facility as the wolf was brought specifically for breeding.

The zoo now is left with one male and two female wolves.

“A pair of wolves was brought to the Delhi Zoo from Mysuru Zoo in March. After spending the mandatory period in quarantine, it was released in the enclosure on May 1. The wolf was found dead the next morning. It died of snake bite,” said RA Khan, curator of Delhi Zoo.

Zoo officials, who saw the wolf carcass, said blood was oozing out of its mouth, nose and anus. Zoo officials suspect it was possibly a Spectacled Cobra.

“Around 32 species of snakes have been recorded from Delhi out of which only four are venomous — Spectacle Cobra, Common Krait, Saw Scale Viper and Russell’s Viper,” said Surya Prakash, a scientist with the School of Life Sciences in JNU.

Although rare, this is, however, not the first time an animal has died in the Delhi zoo because of snake bite. In September 2007, a Rhino died of a snake bite. In July and in August 2012, the Delhi zoo lost two animals – a bison and a Himalayan bear – to snake bites. A tiger was killed because of snake bite in the late 1980s. In 2018, snakes ate at least three parakeets.

“In July 1986, former Delhi zoo director M Kamal Naidu saved the life of three lion cubs in the zoo from being bitten by a cobra. While doing that, Naidu got bitten and had to be hospitalised. In 1988, he was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for this,” said a senior Delhi zoo official.

The Indian wolf is listed in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and enjoys the same level of protection as the tiger and lion. Wolves live in a pack.

Even though the Delhi Zoo had four wolves,two males and two females, they were not breeding for more than three years. It was then the zoo authorities brought a new pair of wolves – a male and a female. In exchange, one pair of wolves was sent to the Mysuru Zoo.

“As the zoo has many wooded area, wild snakes such as cobras and kraits are often found. They come in search of rats and hide in the burrows. We try to keep the snake population under control by keeping the population of rats under control. The wooded areas are also cleared from time to time,” said a zoo official.

After the 1986 incident, a proposal to build a reptile house was made so wild snakes caught from inside the zoo premises could be kept along with other snakes and reptiles. The reptile house was set up in 1992.

First Published: May 21, 2019 06:30 IST