| Happy hours
Jan. 4: Animals at Assam state zoo can look forward to better days and expect a hearty and hygienic meal.
The zoo will soon have a state-of-the-art kitchen to ensure hygiene, systematic storage and processing of meat, vegetables and fruits for its inmates.
“The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has approved the project and the funds, about Rs 24 lakh, have been sanctioned for the kitchen, which will ensure hygiene and systematic storage of meat and vegetables for the animals,” Utpal Bora, divisional forest officer, Assam state zoo, told The Telegraph.
The official said the kitchen would have separate sections for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.
“It will conform to the best of hygienic standards and there will be cold storage facilities as well,” the official said. “We spend around Rs 3 crore on food for the animals every year and hence it is imperative that nothing goes to waste for lack of storage.”
The present kitchen has limited space and lacks the basic facilities, with cooking utensils available only in manageable quantity.
According to guidelines of the CZA, a modern zoo kitchen must have a ration house, which receives food items from the suppliers. Before receiving the food, the quality of all items must be checked and weighed and records of receipt and issue are entered in relevant registers.
Quality and quantity of all items will have to be counter-checked every day by zoo officials. All vegetables and fruit items must be thoroughly cleaned in running water, processed and kept in separate vessels and buckets earmarked for specific animals and enclosures according to diet schedule prescribed by the zoo veterinarian.
Animal keepers will then have to process the food items such as removal of unwanted parts, cutting and sizing in a separate room.
“A footbath will be provided near the entry door of the room and dipping of foot in the solution will be mandatory. The staff engaged in processing food will have to maintain absolute hygiene,” Bora said.
“After processing the food items, the animal keepers will have to collect the vessels containing the food and take the same to the animal enclosures, sometimes in vehicles, depending on the distance. The food is emptied on the feeding trough and plates kept in the enclosures. Thereafter, the feeding cubicles are thoroughly cleaned to maintain hygiene,” he added.
Says M.L. Smith, a veterinarian at the zoo: “We have always ensured hygiene in the kitchen as animals, like humans, too need hygienic food. The meat is procured on a day-to-day basis and according to the amount required. There is a separate beef house as well. But of course, once the modern kitchen comes up, there will be more space and better storage facilities.”