Second such incident in zoo; officials admit attack on deer is common

More than a dozen spotted deer were killed by dogs in the free range zone of the Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur on Tuesday

Tuesday’s incident was the second such attack on deer in the open area of the zoo. In October 2008, a dozen spotted deer were killed by a pack of jackals in the open area.

Around 4 a.m. on Tuesday, zoo officials during routine rounds found a large number of deer lying injured.

Immediately, zoo vets were alerted.

Officials found more than a dozen spotted deer dead. Four injured deer were shifted to the veterinary hospital on the zoo premises.

A post-mortem was conducted but the results were not disclosed. The bodies were cremated as per procedure, officials said.

The killings might have not happened on one day and could have taken place some time ago, said a zoo official. The dogs might have come in a pack. As deer are sensitive to small injuries, many deer might have succumbed later.         

The incident comes less than a fortnight after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa visited the zoo to name seven tiger cubs.

“Such killings or injuries to deer in the open space in the zoo occur often, say, once a fortnight. At least, two deer get killed or seriously injured. This time, the casualty has gone up,” said another zoo official.   

Zoo sources said for a week now, 13 dogs had been roaming in the open space, where spotted deer and jackals are left in their natural environment.

The dogs, the sources added, are mostly domesticated by residents in the neighbourhood and kept for safeguard of their cattle and paddy fields.

The dogs might have sneaked into the zoo premises, the officials said.

Last week, after some deer were found injured officials launched an intense search but were able to trap only a few rogue dogs.

“These dogs are domesticated dogs but are well trained in hunting animals. As the zoo is a vast area comprising the reserve forest, it has been a challenge to locate the dogs,” said another zoo official.

Senior officials, however denied that there were any deaths, but admitted that a few deer were injured. “No death of deer in the zoo premises,” said assistant director and public relations officer of the zoo, Sudhakar.  

Currently, around 700 spotted deer are found in the reserve forest area.

Apart from this, there are five enclosures where five types of deer including blackbuck, spotted deer and sambar are kept. Each enclosure has 50 animals.

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