Now, big cats of Mysuru zoo to be fed chicken instead of beef

Lions and tigers at Mysuru zoo.  

With the anti-cow slaughter ordinance becoming a law in Karnataka, beef has been replaced with chicken in the diet of the big cats of Mysuru zoo.

However, veterinarians will be keeping a close watch on the tigers, lions, leopards and other carnivores at the zoo for any changes in their behaviour or other physiological parameters.

The over 125-year-old Mysuru zoo, which attracts lakhs of tourists every year, houses about 35 to 40 big cats in its enclosures. Though beef was the mainstay of their diet, the enforcement of the anti-cow slaughter ordinance led to the closure of beef shops in Mysuru earlier this week.

The zoo requires about 350 kg of beef every day. For the last few days, the zoo authorities started feeding the carnivores chicken as an alternative, said zoo director Ajit Kulkarni. However, the quantity fed to each carnivore had been reduced by 20% in view of the higher fat content in chicken, he added.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests B.P. Ravi, who is also the Member Secretary of Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK), said the carnivores of Bengaluru Bannerghatta Biological Park had been provided chicken for about three to four months between April to July last year during the COVID-19 lockdown when beef was not available.

During this period, veterinarians had drawn the blood samples of these carnivores in Bannerghatta and compared the haematology with the samples of blood drawn from the carnivores in Mysuru zoo that were on the usual diet of beef. “Though there was not much change in the parameters, a noticeable difference was the weight put on by the Bannerghatta carnivores fed on chicken. So, the veterinarians reduced the quantity of chicken supplied to them,” he said.

However, Mr. Ravi said a question mark still hangs over how the change in diet will impact the carnivores long-term.

The veterinarians will keep a close watch on the physiological parameters and behavioural changes.

Bird flu concern

Meanwhile, the bird flu scare in different parts of the country has become a source of concern for the zoo authorities.

If the supply of chicken is disrupted as a result of bird flu, the immediate worry for the authorities will be the financial burden. If beef and chicken are both not available, shifting to mutton, which is about three to four times more expensive, will be prohibitively expensive, said Mr. Ravi. The authorities are also exploring the possibility of feeding the carnivores sea fish as a substitute food.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 10:07:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/now-big-cats-of-mysuru-zoo-to-be-fed-chicken-instead-of-beef/article33646380.ece

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