The veterinary hospital at Birsa zoo, Ranchi. Picture by Prashant Mitra
When a bear at Birsa Munda Biological Park had a limb fracture a couple of months ago, it took officials two days to figure out why it whimpered
Three new-born tiger cubs died early this month, as one got crushed under its mother and two others had a congenital defect in which the gallbladder got embedded in the liver, but zoo authorities couldn’t prevent the deaths
Ranchi, April 19: Even as the veterinary hospital inside Palamau Tiger Reserve gets a Rs 6-lakh revival blueprint, Birsa zoo in Ormanjhi on the capital’s outskirts sits and licks its wounds.
The zoo has a four-room veterinary hospital with an operation theatre, pathological laboratory, animal and post-mortem wards, but the centre lacks facilities and qualified staff to address animal woes. The pathological laboratory stands bare without any testing kit or chemical stock.
There is a doctor and a compounder each, against the standard requirement of two full-time specialists and four compounders. Sources said that once every six months, zoo authorities asked experts from outside to perform stool and blood tests on animals. Curently, the zoo hosts 646 animals across 63 species.
Still in shock over the deaths of the tiger cubs — their births were the first case of successful captive mating in the zoo’s 17-year-old history — zoo authorities do not deny that medical facilities need to be upgraded.
Zoo vet Dinesh Kumar groped for reasons behind the deaths. “We don’t know how they developed such complications,” he admitted. But had the zoo access to a well-equipped veterinary hospital, the tiger count could have been kept up.
“I don’t blame our vet or any staff for negligence. They tried their best to save the cubs. But at the same time, I don’t deny that medical facilities need to be upgraded,” Birsa zoo director P.K.Verma said, adding sonography kits and X-ray machines would be installed soon.
The director said the zoo also needed a full-time curator. “Curators are animal behaviour specialists. He is handy for analysing the tell-tale signs of animal health and keeping the medical team posted,” Verma said.
Notably, zoos in New Delhi, Calcutta, Vizag, Hyderabad, among others, have curators.
Even the operation theatre cannot cater to more than one animal at a time as it has one bed. However, vet Kumar said they had not required bed space for more than one animal at a time.
“Big animals such as tigers, elephants, rhinos, etc, are operated on or treated inside their cages as they can’t be taken out,” he said, adding there was a separate room for animals with communicable diseases.
“This serves two purposes — an observatory and an isolation ward. If an animal is imported, it is first kept there for observation before letting it mix with the existing lot. Secondly, if an animal has a communicable disease, it is kept isolated till it is cured,” he said.