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Ambulance turns lifesaver for zoo inmates

D. Madhavan
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Facility saves time in shifting animals to vet clinic: officials

Multi-purposeThe mobile medical unit can be converted into an operation theatre too—Photo: Special Arrangement
Multi-purposeThe mobile medical unit can be converted into an operation theatre too—Photo: Special Arrangement

Four months after it was introduced, the advanced mobile medical unit is turning into a lifesaver for many injured and sick animals at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur.

So far, at least 50 species including white tiger, hyena, spotted dear, Indian Gaur, langur, sea eagle, python and wild dog have been transported safely from their enclosures to the vet clinic inside the zoo. In August, 7-year-old female Royal Bengal tigress Satya was quickly shifted to the clinic from her enclosure, around a kilometre away from the clinic. Satya had sustained serious injuries in the head and stomach during mating while her companion, three-and-half-year-old Sembian, a white tiger, was killed by her. “The mobile medical unit saves a lot of time in shifting such injured animals to the nearest vet clinic,” said Sudhakar, assistant director, Vandalur zoo.

Forest officials said that the new facility saves a lot of time in shifting the wild species. Earlier, zoo inmates were shifted in rented mini-vans from their enclosures to the vet clinic in the zoo. Such transportation lacked life support facilities for wild animals.  

Inaugurated in July, the Rs. 9 lakh mobile unit is equipped with an oxygen cylinder, pulse monitor, critical care monitor, stretcher, surgical tools, small cages, tranquilising darts and emergency medicines. The ambulance can accommodate seven persons including two vets. Of the more than 200 zoos in the country, Vandalur zoo is the third to have an advanced mobile medical unit after Jaipur and Mysore. The aim of the facility is to shift the wild species within the golden hour. In fact, the ambulance can be converted into an operation theatre to give immediate treatment for seriously injured animals near their enclosure.

Apart from the clinic, the ambulance also helps transport wild animals safely from their enclosure to other locations such as the Tamil Nadu Veterinary College at Vepery. Last week, a group of eight sambar was shifted from their enclosure to the safari area within the zoo due to space constraints.

Currently, the safari area has more than a hundred sambar and 20 spotted deer and black buck in the enclosure. “At present, the ambulance is mainly used for wild species in the zoo,” said an official of the state forest department. 

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