By Prabal Sharma
EXTENSIVE MEASURES have been taken by the authorities at the Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, also known as Chhatbir Zoo, to protect the animals from the cold weather that has gripped the city.
With the temperature falling drastically, the zoo has made all possible arrangements to tackle it, says Harpal Singh, Chief Education Officer of the zoo. “We start the winter preparation from the month of September and we divide it into two aspects of Environmental and Dietary Care.”
Shelters and paddy husk beddings are present in almost all the enclosures. The chief education officer elaborated, “For herbivores, we construct shelters made of kanna (secrem-munja), thatch, logs and bamboos with the help of binding wire and ropes which are waterproof with a paddy straw and wheat husk bedding. Carnivores, on the other hand, have room heaters and convectors inside their night shelters with similar bedding and the windows are covered with polythene or fibre sheets.”
He further explained, “We cater to the DFO Protocol which stands for defecation, feed and observation for all individual animals of every species. Out of the 350 people who work here, 150 are assigned to check every animal for their faeces, consumption of food given on the previous night and general behaviour first thing in the morning. If any abnormality is noticed, it is reported immediately to the zoo hospital.”
The animals do not seem affected by the cold as most of them seem active and enjoying whatever little sunlight presents itself.
The director of the zoo, M Saudagar, said, “This temperature is most dangerous for reptiles and cold-blooded animals making them lethargic. Therefore, the reptile house has been equipped with oil-fin heaters which are very good in maintaining warmth without disturbing the natural humidity of the enclosures. Special aquarium water heaters and circulation systems have been provided for turtles and tortoises.” He added, “Extra dietary care is also important these days. We have added extra quantity of sugarcane, honey and jaggery for bears, elephants and deer, respectively. Bird cages have been covered with fibre cloth and jute mats and they are also getting Alsee seeds and nutrition supplements.”
A caretaker at the zoo, Hakum Singh, also mentioned that extra care was being taken of the old and very young members of every species. Teams of doctors from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute and other organisations visit regularly to check on the animals. This, according to Harpal Singh, is a necessary measure to maintain their perfect health.