A heater for India’s oldest chimpanzee, honey sandwiches for the six bears, and blankets for the hoolock gibbons — with winter slowly creeping in, the National Zoological Park is prepping for the chill.
According to zoo curator Riaz Khan, “40-45 heaters will be installed in enclosures across the zoo, although Rita, the 58-year-old chimpanzee has already got one since she is aged. The gibbons too have been provided heaters.”
Every winter, the Delhi zoo also places wooden platforms in the enclosures of animals such as lions and panthers to keep them warm. “For blackbucks, spotted deers, chinkaras, and chausingha, we make mounds of straw and keep them under trees, so they can rest on it or eat it,” said Khan.
The reptile enclosure, which has been shut for a few months due to construction outside, too, is being prepped to beat the cold — with heaters being installed, and hessian cloth placed on the floors of their cells. The lone chimp and the hoolock gibbons will be provided blankets as “they are smarter animals, and wear them around themselves to keep warm or place it on the ground to sit on”, said Khan.
Winter diet — heavy on seasonal and dry fruits — is being added to the menu. “Each animal will be fed 50 gram kachcha amla daily as it keeps them warm. The sloth bear and the five Himalayan bears will be given honey slapped on bread, and the chimpanzee and the gibbons will get dry fruits,” said Khan.