Anacondas likely to be put on display only by May-end

The Thiruvananthapuram zoo has informally offered — to the Animal Quarantine Office (AQO), Southern Region, Chennai — to act as a quarantine centre for various kinds of animals that are being brought into the country and for those that may require confinement for medical reasons.

This offer was made during a recent visit here of the quarantine officer from Chennai to inspect the anacondas housed at a special facility at the zoo. On Friday, the city zoo will send a 30-day report to AQO-Chennai on the health of these snakes that have generated considerable interest in the capital city.

“We can display the snakes only after the Chennai office gives its go-ahead. This could take till the end of May,” zoo vet Jacob Alexander told The Hindu. The health report includes the feeding patterns of the anacondas, details of their moulting (shedding of skin), and analysis of the snakes’ faeces.

Holding area

Once the anacondas are put on display, the zoo plans to maintain their current residence as a special holding area for reptiles requiring medical confinement or isolation that is legally mandated. This means that the zoo would have to maintain the ‘sealed’ atmosphere inside this facility and also the present manner in which liquid waste from inside this facility is treated before being let out into the zoo’s drainage system.

In addition to this, the zoo has also drawn up a proposal to convert its old animal hospital to a quarantine-cum-holding area for animals. Though an architect has drawn up a plan for the same, construction work is expected to begin only much later.

According to Dr. Alexander, this proposed facility would primarily act as a quarantine facility for any kind of animals. “The city zoo has, in fact, a history of acting as a quarantine facility. I am told that decades ago, the zoo had successfully quarantined some American bison and was gifted a pair of bison as a result. Of course, we understand that it is not everyday that animals require a quarantine. Also, there are problems associated with bringing over animals all the way to Thiruvananthapuram for the purpose. Maybe we can be the designated quarantine facility for Kerala,” he said.

While not in use as a quarantine facility, it could be used as a holding area for sick animals or those convalescing after medical procedures. Now, Dr. Alexander pointed out, the city zoo had only a limited area for housing animals that were sick and those that require to be confined to allow wounds to heal. “Also, we do not have space for rearing the young of animals that give birth in captivity. The redesigned zoo hospital can be a multipurpose facility,” he said.

An eye to the sky

Meantime, animal keepers are reading weather forecasts with considerable interest these days. In fact, animals such as the lion, the bear, and the tiger have not been let out into their open enclosures for the past few days owing to the heavy rain and strong wind in the capital city. This is to prevent these animals from being injured by falling tree branches or, worse, by an uprooted tree. Dart guns and a tree-cutter have been kept ready to deal with the event of trees crashing down into animal enclosures.

These animals may be let out again only after the weather calms down.