Baby anaconda dies of heart failure at Mysore Zoo

One of the five green anacondas at the Mysore Zoo died early Saturday morning. The snakes were gifted to the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens on November 23 last year.

Of the five anacondas, one was small and weak, weighing only about 340 gram. After continuous monitoring and interaction with the zoo in Sri Lanka, four snakes showed marked improvement in feeding and activity, except the one that perished.

The zookeepers tried manually feeding two pinkies (newborn rats) to the snake on December 29, 2011, but the snake regurgitated the food the very next day, according to a release from B P Ravi, executive director, Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens.

The weakling was taking a long time to molt and hence the zoo doctors gave it symptomatic treatment orally, using a stomach tube. Assisted molting too was done manually on January 4 and two layers of skin were removed (the last shedding was improper). After molting, the snake showed signs of recuperation, but was not taking food.

On January 17, two pinkies were fed manually with calcium supplementation. However, it vomited the pinkies on January 18. The body weight of the reptile also decreased to 298 gram, said the release.

The anacondas feed on newborn rats. Every Tuesday, they are released from their enclosure for basking in the sun, said Dr C Suresh Kumar, chief veterinarian and assistant director of the Mysore Zoo.

Postmortem examination of the snake revealed that if suffered from severe adhesion and necrosis around its heart region. The adhesion was severe enough to cause limited heart contraction, oesophageal obstruction and movement of other organs around the heart. Pericardium and oesophageal wall were completely adhered, the release said.

An opening in the pericardium at the apex of the heart was noticed with thickening and necrosis of pericardium — necrosis in and around the heart. The rest of the organs were found to be in good condition.Based on the post-mortem examination, the snake was diagnosed with chronic traumatic injury to the heart during blood collection, which resulted in adhesion and necrosis.

A history of blood collection from the heart in snakes at the Sri Lankan zoo was confirmed over the phone by the zoo authorities there. The animal died due to heart failure and anorexia, Dr Kumar declared.

Further, as blood samples were collected from all the anacondas before their departure from Sri Lankan as a routine protocol, the other four snakes need to be examined for heart troubles, the Mysore Zoo authorities said.

“It is an international protocol that once animals are exchanged from various zoos around the world, they will be subjected to blood test,” said Dr Kumar. Diagnosis is possible only by ultrasound scanning, and the dean of the Veterinary College, Hassan, has been requested to help in ultra-sonographic examination, said the release.

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