With mercury levels rising by the day, officials at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur have initiated measures to ensure that animals remain comfortable and cool.

 Despite power outages that last anywhere from three to five hours every day during the visitors' time (from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.), staff do their best to ensure ‘summer bath' for the animals.

According to the zoo authorities, the enclosures of exotic birds such as pheasants, cockatoos, red jungle jowl, parrots and parakeets are partially covered with gunny bags.

Water is sprinkled on gunny bags twice or thrice a day. The zoo has a diesel generator to run motors to pump water from deep bore wells when there is no power supply. When there is insufficient pressure, staff collect water in buckets and sprinkle water on the enclosures with a mug.

 The sprinkling of water is a great delight for the visitors, especially children, who get very close to the enclosure and do not mind getting wet. In addition to sprinkling of water, the authorities also ensure a special healthy diet so that the animals do not get dehydrated. For instance, chimpanzees are given bananas, cucumber, grapes and carrot in addition to tender coconut.

Elephants are given four sugarcanes each. Lion-tailed macaques and bears are given huge portions of melons and gooseberry. For the spotted deer, a special chamber made from coconut fronds has been provided.

 In the walk through aviary, the temperature is a couple of degrees lower than outside. The lush greenery and abundant water forms a picture perfect and cool setting for the birds. According to zoo authorities, they are also in the process of sprucing up amenities for visitors, whose numbers will rise once summer vacation begins.

 “I like hippopotamus the most. It is huge and makes a big splash when entering the water,” says John, who is all set to join nursery school this year. A native of Wallajahbad, John was accompanied by his grandfather, who had to struggle a lot to keep pace with his grandson.

 “This zoo is truly good and unique. I saw the white tiger and a few more animals for the first time in my life,” said N. Mathitha (30) of Botswana. Hailing from Molepolele, a village near the capital city of Gaborone, Mr. Mathitha lives at present in Tambaram.

“Our country is endowed with a rich wildlife. Yet, the sight of the majestic white tiger is a pure delight,” he said.

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