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Updated: August 21, 2012 12:49 IST

Enjoy nightlife at the zoo

B. Madhu Gopal
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Barn owls seem to take a nap in their enclosure at the Nocturnal Animal House at the Indira Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam. Photo: K.R. Deepak
The Hindu Barn owls seem to take a nap in their enclosure at the Nocturnal Animal House at the Indira Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Wish to see nocturnal animals and birds in their habitat during the day? The Nocturnal Animal House (NAH) located at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park provides you a unique opportunity to watch these animals and birds, which are generally active during the nights, in broad daylight!

Simulated night conditions allow you to watch these animals in their habitat. The biological cycle of these animals is changed by regulating the lights and altering the temperature using air-conditioners. The waking-up and sleeping habits are reversed by creating night atmosphere during the day for the benefit of zoo visitors. These darkness-loving creatures also go to sleep along with diurnal species as day conditions are created after sunset. They slowly get habituated to these changes. The nocturnal animals presently available at the zoo include: different kinds of owls, fruit bats, rusty spotted cat, civets, jungle cats and porcupines. “The slender loris, which used to enthral visitors to the NAH died about a year ago. There are around 30 animals in the NAH at present,” says Zoo Curator G. Ramalingam.

“There are some Great Indian Horned Owls and barn owls, porcupines, palm civets, Fruit bats and rusty spotted cat in the NAH. The porcupine gave birth to young ones in the enclosure and the rusty spotted cat from the wild, which strayed on to the highway close to the zoo, was rescued about five months ago, said Zoo doctor V. Srinivas.

Contrary to popular belief that owls spell bad omen and can give one a scare in the dark, they seem to be friendly birds. The barn owls are pretty good to look at. “Habitat destruction and hunting for their skin are the reasons for the dwindling numbers of endangered species like the rusty spotted cat, which is listed in CITES – I (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in India and CITES – II in Sri Lanka. It is also listed as ‘vulnerable' on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List,” says Mr. Ramalingam.

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