The Telegraph
Thursday , May 15 , 2014
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Bokaro zoo plays it cool

Lessons learnt from tragedies in the past, the Jawaharlal Nehru Biological Park in Bokaro is pulling out all the stops to help its 350-odd denizens beat the blazing heat this merciless May.

As the maximum temperature in the steel town leaped to 42°C on Wednesday, a team of four dozen employees led by zoo in-charge and vet Gautam Chakravarty worked overtime to wash and disinfect cages, fix coolers and tarpaulins, fill up water tanks and draw up special and separate diet plans for carnivores and herbivores.

In the summer of 2010, the 127-acre biological park witnessed the unfortunate death of a pregnant hippopotamus, which had been brought from Patna zoo.

Post-mortem nailed excessive heating of the pond bed in the hippo enclosure as a reason behind the tragedy.

This time, the Bokaro zoo is unwilling to risk a chance. Last month, the authorities had carried out thorough cleaning of ponds and moats.

“Now, we have covered the hippo enclosure, comprising three fresh water pools, with a giant tarpaulin,” said Chakravarty.

Sources said Sanjay Tewary, the chief of communications at Bokaro Steel that runs the zoo, was keeping close watch on prized animals after five white tigers died within a span of two years since 2011.

No wonder zoo officials are on their toes.

The zoo chief maintained that members of his staff had been specially deputed to observe behaviour of every animal between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is harsher.

“Tigers are more susceptible to heat strokes compared to lions, which naturally adjust to high temperatures. To comfort the big cats, coolers have been pressed into service. Sprinklers are at hand too while biweekly baths have become a must,” the vet said.

Summer fruits such as watermelon and green mango and vegetables like papaya and gourd are being served to herbivores and birds, while meat-eaters are being given a frugal diet and before 8am so that assimilation isn’t a problem. Deer and the Nilgai, which munch on grain, are being given the same soaked in water.

“Carnivores are also being made to fast one day a week to help improve their digestive system. I personally do a health check every day,” Chakravarty said, adding that animals were being confined to their feeding chambers after 10am.

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