Zoo veterinarian Jacob Alexander watched with mild apprehension the images on the television set up in his office at the zoo hospital. He was observing Ayush, the lion, through a camera installed atop the animal’s cage.
The camera was relaying images of a clearly agitated Ayush pacing to and fro and brushing his forehead against the walls. The mane was the only distinguishable feature of the feline’s profile from directly overhead. “That barely healed wound on his forehead is going to open again,” Mr. Alexander said, visibly concerned.
He then called the keeper in-charge at the time and asked him to slide the cage doors open so that Ayush could return to the open enclosure.
This is only one of the many instances that have convinced Mr. Alexander of the benefits of a surveillance network installed across the sprawling 55-acre campus. While it serves several purposes such as monitoring visitors and their treatment of the animals, for Dr. Alexander, in particular, it has been an asset, considering how he is the sole doctor here, responsible for the health of close to 100 species of creatures.
While he still has to make several trips to animal enclosures daily, the high-quality cameras, capable of tilting, zooming, and panning through controls in his office, have helped supervision from a mile away.
“For instance, if I want I can choose the feed from the camera installed near the zebra’s enclosure,” the vet shows, clicking the option on screen. “Now, I know she is up and about, and eating well.” The footage from 46 cameras installed so far by Keltron is relayed to the offices of the vet, the zoo superintendent, and the Director.
Even when the camera zooms in to the maximum, the shots are of astounding clarity, capable of catching any sign of injury on an animal that may have escaped the keepers’ notice. Moreover, the authorities are able to keep a watch on the keepers, and see to it that the animals are fed on time.
The closed-circuit television cameras are also being installed inside the interior chambers where deliveries take place. “This way, we will be able to monitor the health of the mother and the offspring without aggravating either one by our approach,” Dr. Alexander said. It has also enabled better communication between the authorities, allowing action to be taken immediately on certain situations – including an incident recently when two lions were found chewing a plastic bottle that was hurled into their enclosure by a visitor.