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BBP needs medical facilities to save dying animals

Poornima Nataraj, Bangalore, Dec 23, 2013, DHNS: 1:19 IST

It lost 81 inmates this year; many would have survived with upgraded treatment

ill-equipped: The Bannerghatta National Park has lost 81 animals to various causes and  diseases this year alone. dh photo
Over 80 animals have died this year at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP). Some of them could have been saved if the park had modern medical facilities.

The BBP has been in the news for the death of animals ever since it lost three tigers to salmonella infection in September 2010. It took more than three months for other ailing animals to recover and for the BBP management to sterilise the enclosures. Although sufficient measures were taken to upgrade the enclosures, the BBP still lacks latest medical equipment, including scanning and X-ray machines and incinerators.

The park lost 81 animals, including mammals, reptiles and birds this year, and as many as 57 in 2012. Although most animals that have died are from the herbivorous safari due to the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth-disease and sloth bears due to the incurable tuberculosis, certain animals could have been saved if the BBP had adequate facilities to treat them.

For instance, the lone zebra which died due to bacterial infection could have been saved. According to sources, the highly sensitive-natured animal was administered antibiotic drug through darting. The animal had stopped eating and was in need of sufficient nutrients, but was not given the required IV fluids.The BBP had housed this zebra in an open enclosure. But it did not have a holding house to enable the administering of proper medicines and nutrients. The zebra died in October and the BBP is now planning to bring more zebras from South Africa.

Sources said the X-ray machines at the BBP hospital were obsolete and technicians often faced problems using them. The hospital lacks digital X-ray machines which can help in overcoming the problem to X-ray films. Another major requirement at the BBP hospital is the need for scanning machines as orthopaedic problems among animals can be diagnosed accurately.
In November 2012, a tigress was suffering from lumbar spondylosis, a degeneration of lower spine, and eventually died. Had the animal been diagnosed using an MRI or other scan machines, it could have lived a bit longer with appropriate treatment, sources stressed.

The BBP houses 43 species of birds, 28 species of mammals and 16 species of reptiles. It shelters over 1,300 animals housed at its safari, zoo and rescue centre. The park attracts many wildlife lovers who adopt animals and the money they donate goes towards the animal feed.

Besides, the BBP gets thousands of visitors and is usually jam-packed during weekends. It earns an annual revenue of nearly Rs 15 crore. Plans to construct a super-speciality hospital inside the park as part of a master plan have not yet materialised. With many new and rare animals expected to arrive at the park soon, it is time the BBP ensured that the health services were upgraded, said wildlife lovers.

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