Polo, the gorilla at Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, is frequently seen going under the water from the sprinkler on its premises. He also savours his favourite watermelons while bears Kajol and Chamundi lick ice cubes to beat the heat.
This indicates that summer has begun to affect the Mysore Zoo, while the authorities concerned are taking all steps to keep the inmates ‘cool’. This year, the mercury levels are reaching the peak levels in the month of March itself and the animals need to be protected from the ills of the heat.
Though the temperature in the vast green cover of the 45-acre garden is less, compared to the outer region, it is becoming unbearable for the animals. While the average temperature in the city is around 36 degree celsius, it is around 34 degree inside the Zoo.
As the mercury level rises, most of the animals, including tigers, get dehydrated and creation of cool surroundings provide the much needed respite. “To ensure that the inmates do not suffer from dehydration, drinking water has been provided in enclosures and more ponds have been dug around the zoo,” said Dr C Suresh, Mysore Zoo Veterinarian, speaking to Deccan Herald.
In order to keep all the enclosures cool, water sprinklers have been installed. It is kept on for nearly an hour during the day, so that the animals take a shower and keep their body temperatures stable. In some enclosures, like that of elephants and Indian Gaurs, Suresh said, they have made mud water ponds. “When these animals cover their body with silt or mud mixed with water, it keeps them cool,” he said.
He mentioned that nowadays Polo is staying outside its enclosure. He sleeps on a cement bench provided inside the enclosure and in the morning, when its little cool, he covers himself with a thick blanket.
In the diet, we are adding more fruits (for herbivores) like watermelons, oranges, musambi, musk melons and pineapple, and also mixing drinking water with glucose to prevent dehydration (for carnivores).
He said, apples have been withdrawn during summer and fruits with a lot water is given. More and more sugarcane and green grass is added to the elephant’s diet.While Asiatic sloth bears (Himalayan bears) and Black sloth bears enclosures are spread with ice cubes. Suresh said, bears start licking the ice cubes to ease their thirst and stabilise body temperatures.
Water is showered on all mammoth animals like giraffe, elephants, rhinoceros, Indian gaurs, from water jets installed in their respective enclosures. Animals relax in mud ponds most of the time to overcome the heat. Suresh said, the Mysore Zoo is not facing any sort of water scarcity unlike during yesteryears.