In times of flash floods, Tata zoo is cocking a snook at a stubborn weather.
The country’s touted private animal planet, which had readied the proverbial Noah’s Ark — an enviable fleet of motorised and paddle boats, besides two-tier enclosures — well ahead in time, has ensured that its wild denizens stay high and dry.
Downpour for 72 hours and the ravenous Jayanti Sarovar have submerged the nature’s trail at the zoo. Water from Subernarekha too gushed in around 5am on Wednesday. But, the inmates are safe.
Zoo vet Manik Palit said that Mithun — the eight-year-old male leopard with a limp — has been relocated to the zoo hospital along with partner Sheeba and their cub. Another spotted feline family — Ved, Basanti and their cub — have found perfect perch in the upper tier of their enclosure.
“The situation is very much under control. We are keeping constant tabs on the water level,” said Palit, who doubles up as the deputy director.
He added: “The African lion quintet — Jumbo, Ed, Kimu, Salya and Zoya — as well as tiger couple Raghav and Shanti and their little one Dona are staying put inside their cages. Though only the leopard enclosure is vulnerable, we are taking precautions to keep other animals safe too.”
According to zoo employees, the swollen Subernarekha is “not accepting water” from Jayanti Sarovar, which is the normal and natural phenomenon. “Water coming out of Sarovar outlets is not flowing into the river and flooding the leopard enclosure and nature’s trail,” one of them said.
There are three drains inside the big cat enclosure, but all have outlived their purpose. “Water is normally drained out from the enclosure to the Sarovar outlet, but when the conduit itself is flooded, there is no escape from inundation. Like Subernarekha, the outlet is also sending water back to the enclosure,” another zoo employee explained.
The consolation: water level was found to be going down inside the enclosure in the afternoon after there was a let-up in rainfall.
However, the zoo bosses have drawn up a contingency plan supervised by the five-member disaster management team formed last month.
The zoo aquarium has been relocated to the Knowledge Centre. Electrical fittings have been removed from the leopard enclosure and adequate medicines and saline have been stocked up. Four out of the 16 boats have been oiled and kept ready.