The Sardar Patel Zoological Park in Kevadia Colony near the Statue of Unity has lost one more of its zebras, imported from South Africa in October last year. Officials said the zebra developed an intestinal injury — Intussusception — during an aggressive mating session, leading to its death. This is the 10th of the imported exotic animals to have died in the Safari that has not yet been formally inaugurated.
Director of the park, Dr Ram Ratan Nala told this newspaper that the zebra may have suffered the injury during a mating session. Nala said, “The small intestines of the zebra had pushed itself into the large intestines, thus causing a fatal internal rupture. During mating, the zebras get quite aggressive and run around uncontrollably. It could have occurred during that time.” This is the third of the nine imported zebras to have died. The incident occurred on May 13, Nala said. In veterinary parlance, intussusception is caused by many factors, of which, one could be vigorous contractions that force the more proximal intestine to invaginate into the adjacent portion.
In November, four impalas and a giraffe had also died, shortly after their arrival in India from Africa. The authorities had then told The Indian Express that some mortality is expected after transportation. While authorities had confirmed that the impalas died due to accidental injury from high jumps, the giraffe had died of peracute mortality syndrome — a mysterious condition that affects giraffes and causes sudden death without pre-existing evidence of disease or illness.
In January, the second of the four giraffes also died due to the same condition. On March 14, this year, the third of the four giraffes died due to diaphragmatic hernia, thus leaving a lone female giraffe at the safari of the two pairs that were imported by the government.
Nala said that the authorities are on the lookout for a partner for the female, considering the long term need to multiply the numbers. “We have one female giraffe now. We will be coordinating with zoos to see if we have a suitable male partner for the giraffe as part of an exchange programme,” he said, adding that the government plan on bringing in more animals to the safari has not been impacted by the lockdown.
“Zoos are an essential service. So like procurement of food has not been a problem, similarly, paperwork to continue the communication for exchange and procurement of animals is not impacted due to the lockdown. Once the necessary permissions are given, the process will be completed,” said Nala. He, however, did not reveal names of animal species that could possibly be brought in.
The Kevadia zoo, which has not yet been formally inaugurated but has seen a short trial run with tourists visiting, just two weeks before the lockdown was implemented had seen two batches of animals that arrived in October.
With the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown extended until May 31, it is now almost certain that the tourist destinations across the state will remain closed for an indefinite period of time this year.
Gujarat Tourism has introduced virtual tours to several tourist sites through its social media accounts. Last week, it also posted a video of various tourist attractions of Gujarat, urging people to “take a pause” to be able to “meet again”.