Kerala

When the bomb squad secured a zoo enclosure

A member of the bomb detection and disposal squad scouring the African Cape buffalo enclosure in the city zoo for iron fragments.

A member of the bomb detection and disposal squad scouring the African Cape buffalo enclosure in the city zoo for iron fragments.

A month ago, the bomb detection and disposal squad of the State Special Branch of the Kerala Police here received an unusual request. The city zoo needed its support to ensure that its animals were safe.

The zoo had repaired the iron fencing of the enclosure housing African Cape buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), a species not seen much in Indian zoos. The enclosure houses a pair of the massive sub-Saharan African bovine, aged 16 and 12 years. The contractor who took up the work had removed the iron scrap that had been left over, but the zoo authorities noticed that small sharp-edged pieces of fencing and needles of welding rods that could not be detected by the naked eye were embedded in the soil and grass.

Dangerous

If the animals were to ingest even one of these jagged iron pieces, it could pierce the reticulum, diaphragm and further the heart, causing a traumatic injury. Moreover, bacteria from the reticulum could seep into the heart, causing infection and inflammation and eventually result in traumatic reticulopericarditis, a serious condition seen in ruminants, says zoo senior veterinary surgeon Jacob Alexander.

Dr. Alexander then contacted T.K. Vinod Kumar, Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, State Special Branch. Mr. Vinod Kumar initially thought that Dr. Alexander had reached out to the wrong office, but on hearing him at length, he arranged for the bomb squad members to scour the animal enclosure and retrieve the iron fragments.

“We have a very good bomb disposal squad with equipment ranging from ordinary metal detectors to those able to make deep searches, and mine detectors too. These are frequently used during high-security VIP visits. As the request was for a good cause, we deployed our team to the city zoo.”

A team comprising Sunil M.R., Sreekumaran H., Krishna Kumar, Sreejith Praveen E.B., Alex Berlin, Retheesh, Wills Kumar, and Bobanlal first made an assessment and then painstakingly went around the enclosure over two days to recover every single iron fragment.

Letter of appreciation

The zoo sent a letter of appreciation to the bomb squad members for the State police’s gesture of goodwill.

The police too plan to reward their officers for their good work. “We are very happy to extend our help to the zoo and its animals,” says Mr. Vinod Kumar.


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 7:58:48 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/when-the-bomb-squad-secured-a-zoo-enclosure/article65463981.ece