Besides ensuring a winter-combating diet for its inmates, the zoo authorities also provide heaters in some of the animal shelters

Though the mercury has registered an upward trend in the past two days bringing some cheer to Delhiites, the bone-chilling cold that the Capital experienced this past week put to test Delhi Zoo’s preparedness in helping its inmates deal with the winter.

Says Delhi Zoo veterinarian Dr. Paneer Selvam: “To cope with the harsh winter this season, a winter-friendly diet was introduced for the inmates along with extra heating and medical care. During the winter months we put in place a special diet plan for the animals to keep them warm.”

Carnivores are supplied with two extra kilos of buffalo meat daily to maintain their body heat. “Lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars usually eat eight kilos of buffalo meat during summer; now they have ten kilos,” adds the zoo vet.

Herbivores are given grass, fruits and bread to keep out the cold. The zoo authorities also ensure that the elephants are given their favourite sugarcane diet while birds are provided with apples and bread. Fish supply is also increased during the season.

“We have added 20 extra kilos of fish for the pelicans, painted storks and ibis,” says Dr. Selvam.

Besides ensuring a winter-combating diet for its inmates, the zoo authorities also provide heaters in some of the animal shelters.

“Animals are allowed outdoors during the day to bask in the sunlight and a team is in place to monitor their situation at night. Wooden platforms are installed in the shelters for lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars, and a layer of plastic sheet is added to the front side of the birds’ shelter. For animals staying out in the open, paddy straws are provided to keep them warm,” adds Dr. Selvam.

Speaking about the snakes that are in hibernation during the season, Dr. Selvam says: “We have inserted 100-200 Watt bulbs in the mud pots and made holes on them to keep the heat flow.”

Meanwhile, a drop in ambient temperature often triggers cold stress syndrome, which dampens the animals’ metabolic reaction and weakens their immune system. Birds are particularly vulnerable to cold stress. The zoo authorities are also providing multi-vitamins and anti-cold-stress drug to protect them from death due to shock.

“Delhi this year has witnessed the coldest winter in decades but our inmates are doing well because of our preparedness and unless there is snowfall in the city we have all the resources to deal with the drop in temperature,’’ says Dr. Selvam. “We have been doing well this season and no animal deaths have been reported so far which means that the winter management has been a success.”

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