Anticipating a further drop in temperatures soon, the Delhi zoo is now busy making arrangements to keep its inhabitants warm over the next few months.
Riyaz Khan, zoo curator (education), said each animal’s individual needs have been evaluated and measure have introduced keeping those in mind. “ Several arrangements such as heaters, wooden platforms, blankets and beds of chaff as well as diet changes have been made for the animals,” Khan said.
For instance, the zoo will provide blankets to the Hoolock Gibbon — India’s only ape species. The National Zoological Park in Delhi is attempting to become the first zoo in northern India to successfully breed these gibbons which are endemic to the rainforests and have had difficulty in the past with Delhi’s severe, dry winters.
Zoo authorities said blankets had also been provided to the zoo’s Chimpanzee population.
Authorities said diets of its inhabitants had also been modified. “Meat intake of large carnivores, especially big cats such as lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards, goes up by one or two kilogram per animal,” an official said, while adding that gooseberries had been added to the diet of herbivores such as deer and hippopotamus.
Khan said diets had also been modified to compensate for reduced water intake. “To substitute for the reduced water intake, we provide animals with glucose,” he said.
Birds will be fed sunflower seeds, while elephants and rhinoceroses are provided food with measured quantities of mustard oil to keep them warm, Khan said.
Enclosures have been furnished with wooden platforms, curtains and heaters to keep the animals warm. “Chaff beds and straw mattresses have also been provided in some enclosures,” an official said, curtains and nets had been put in open enclosures, such as those meant for bears, to avoid cases of illness due to the cold.
Officials said low temperatures can make animals inactive. So objects for recreation such as swings for monkeys, food baskets for deer, logs of wood for elephants, had been provided to keep the animals busy.