Environment

Here’s how zoos across India are preparing for the great Indian summer

Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai

Here’s how zoos across India are preparing for the great Indian summer

A rustle of dry leaves, distant subdued growls and an occasional splash of water are the only sounds that can be heard on a hot sultry day at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP), popularly known as Vandalur zoo, in Chennai. With the mercury shooting up steadily, zoo authorities are creating cool zones for the 2,600 animals and birds from 180 species.

Bamboo grass thatched shelters are up at 15 enclosures providing shade. “Work is on for adding another 21 shelters in animal enclosures,” says Naga Sathish Gidijala, Deputy Director of AAZP. Water sprinklers are in place in a majority of the enclosures, working round the clock to keep the animals cool.

“Our footfalls right now are barely 40% of the pre-COVID levels,” says Gidijala, indicating the severe cash crunch the zoo is facing. “As a self-sustaining unit, our main revenue comes from the gate tickets, which saw a major setback last year. The Government had given ₹6 crore funds last year which took care of the animal feed. This summer, due to the cash crunch we are only focussing on the animals and their well being, but could not take up any upgradation of visitor facilities,” adds Gidijala.

Nevertheless, at the aviary section, the birds get regular showers. And the chimps look happy, enjoying icy watermelon popsicles.

Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, Visakhapatnam

Here’s how zoos across India are preparing for the great Indian summer

Incorrigible Cheepa, the chimp at Visakhapatnam’s Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP), is in a petulant mood. He snarls at his keeper and looks away grumpily when visitors enter. “The summer heat is making things difficult for them,” says the keeper. Fortunately, a few enclosures away, the Royal Bengal tiger is cheerful, as he enjoys the spritz of water from a newly-installed sprinkler. Beside his enclosure, a white tiger swims languidly in the pool, then snoozes under the trees.

At the coastal city’s zoo park, arrangements are being made to protect 810 animals of 90 species from the sweltering heat. The animals are at present housed in 77 enclosures spread across the 625 acres of the zoo park. “We have put cool roof paints on night houses, covered most enclosures with palmyra leave shades and set up water sprinklers,” says IGZP curator Nandani Salaria.

For the birds, aviaries have been covered with palm leaf mats, which screen the sun’s rays and reduce the heat considerably. Khus-khus mats are hung over the enclosures of exotic species like the blue green macaw.

Summer care includes cooling foods such as watermelon, cucumber and coconut water along with supplements like Vitamin B Complex for the zoo’s oldest animals like Sirish, the white tiger and the Indian gaur, Raja. In addition, fans are being placed in enclosures for animals like the wild dog, panther, chimpanzee, white tiger and hyena.

VOC Park Zoo, Coimbatore

Here’s how zoos across India are preparing for the great Indian summer

Rows of crotons are a welcome addition to the greenery at the Coimbatore Zoo. “We added ornamental plants at the entrance before summer set in. The vast stretches of green lawns are relaid and kept moist through the day. Though the sun is beating down, there’s always a cool breeze that ensures a comfort zone for animals,” says E Senthilnathan, Zoo Director.

The VOC Park Zoo in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, spread across four-and-a-half acres, is home to over 500 animals including reptiles, mammals and birds. “For big-bodied birds like emu, we spray water on the dense feathers twice a day. Every morning we spray water on the ground for heat dissipation. For spotted deer, we keep refilling water at ponds. The dense greenery provides enough shade and they feel free to run and graze,” he adds.

Besides placing additional troughs of water at enclosures of birds and reptiles, they are given fruits that are high in water content. “Parakeets, cockatiels and African grey parrots now enjoy grapes, oranges and mosambi instead of their regular diet of seeds. Mammals like monkeys relish watermelon and musk melon.”

He adds, “Till kathiri veyil or agni nakshatram, when the peak summer season gets over and we get the first monsoon shower, we follow this routine.”

Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad

Here’s how zoos across India are preparing for the great Indian summer

At Hyderabad’s sprawling Nehru Zoological Park, despite the scorching weather, the tuskers are a happy lot — now, they get extra time to frolic in the shower. The leopard settles in front of a water sprinkler in his enclosure, yawning gently.

“More than 50 air coolers are erected in animal enclosures of monkeys, tigers, lions, jaguars, cheetahs and leopards. Air conditioners and exhaust fans have been installed in the nocturnal animal house and shelters have been provided to all the herbivore enclosures,” says VVL Subhadra Devi, Curator, Nehru Zoological Park.

The diet is tweaked to include summer seasonal fruits like watermelon, muskmelon and citrus-variety fruits. “Ample drinking water is being provided to all animal houses from time to time to avoid dehydration. Vitamin -C and B-Complex supplements are dissolved in the water,” says the curator.

In addition, water troughs are kept at various places in the zoo for the free ranging animals and birds.

(With inputs from K Jeshi)

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 10:56:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/heres-how-zoos-across-india-are-preparing-for-the-great-indian-summer/article34265234.ece

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