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Tasty treats to beat zoo chill
- Extra pound of flesh for carnivores, mahua for herbivores

Ranchi, Dec. 25: Their Christmas stockings may not have toys, candies and coins, but they sure have fillers to fend off the chill.

With the minimum temperature hovering around 8°C in Ranchi, Birsa Munda zoo authorities have prepared a special diet chart for their 1,190 inmates — herbivores, carnivores and avian.

If the eight sloth bears are relishing delicious kheer made out of 13kg milk and four kg rice and boiled eggs, the seven Himalayan bears are enjoying bananas, apples, milk and 50gm of honey every day. Birds, on the other hand, are feeding on guavas, vegetables, groundnuts and Bengal grams. These nutritious and fibre-rich foods will make their immune system strong, feel the authorities.

“Each herbivore consumes 30gm of local brew mahua every day as a supplementary diet. Besides, we are also serving them their usual green fodder,” said veterinary officer Ajay Kumar.

As far as the three jumbos of the zoo are concerned, each is being served fibre-rich food like 100gm of mahua, sugarcane, a kilo of jaggery, 3kg black gram soaked in water and one kilo of boiled rice. “We are serving 120kg food to each elephant every day,” Kumar added.

Hippos, on the other hand, are taking 10kg of potatoes, 4kg of carrots and pumpkins and 3kg of cabbage.

“The carnivores are eating one extra kilo of buffalo meat, which is boiled for 10 minutes to kill the bacteria. The small cats are feasting on freshly dressed chicken. This not only provides them protein, but also increases their metabolic rate,” the vet added.

Weatherman, Kumar added, had warned that temperature would go down further after December 25.

“We do not wish to take any risk and have prepared the special diet for both herbivores and carnivores,” said the vet.

If the mercury goes further down, the six chefs at the zoo kitchen will serve hot piping soup to the inmates.

Authorities of the zoo are warming up for winter in other ways as well.

For the cats, both big and small, blowers and heaters have been set up inside cages. They have been brought to make sure the animals do not suffer in case of a prolonged cold wave, which is common in Ranchi winters.

High wooden benches (piras) are also in place in case the chill from the floor gets too much for them.

Blankets and gunnybags have been placed inside the cells. Straw sheds have been built for the deer to provide them with natural shelter.

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