Dietary pattern changed for big cats in zoos

Each lion is fed with 7 kg of beef, while 3 kg of meat is given to a leopard a day.  

COVID-19 has forced zoo keepers to change the dietary pattern of big cats.

Instead of feeding carnivores like lion, tiger, and leopard with raw meat, they are now being given sterilised meat. Meat is sterilised by dipping it in hot water at a temperature of 65 degree Celsius for 10 minutes. The move is in line with guidelines issued by the Central Zoo Authority, said T.V. Anilkumar, superintendent of Thiruvananthapruam zoo.

The zoo in the State capital houses a pair of lions, and seven leopards, and seven tigers. The zoo in Thrissur has one lion, three leopards and four tigers.

Each lion is fed with 7 kg of beef, while 3 kg of meat is given to a leopard a day. The quantity of meat supplied is modified according to its consumption after obtaining reports from the zoo veterinarian, said V. Rajesh, superintendent of the Thrissur zoo.

Zoos have stepped up vigil after reports of eight Asiatic lions in Hyderabad getting infected with SARS-COV-2.


The animals are being observed for signs of nasal discharge, cough, salivation, and diarrhoea. Veterinarians are keeping a regular watch on animals for signs of distress, besides collecting swabs. The zoos are now closed for visitors, Mr. Rajesh said.

Animal keepers who have received two dozes of vaccine alone are deployed for duty. They have been advised to maintain a distance of two metres from enclosures, which are disinfected at regular intervals. Till now, no instances of animals getting infected have been reported, said Mr. Anilkumar.

According to the guidelines issued by the authority last month, zoo keepers should limit their access to fields, mustelid, primate and viverrid enclosures.

Besides, animal keepers should use coveralls, double masks, N95 masks, face shields, and latex gloves while at work. Staff working in close proximity to animals, animal enclosures, and food preparation areas should undergo RT-PCR tests.

Animal enclosures shall be sprayed with anti-virals. The authority has also recommended testing of all large carnivores for SARS-CoV-2. In case of animal mortality, zoo keepers should carry out post-mortem with due care and send samples for tests.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 2:02:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/dietary-pattern-changed-for-big-cats-in-zoos/article34501472.ece

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