Sweating it out at Delhi Zoo

The rising mercury has been giving a hard time to Delhiites. Even as humans struggle to beat the heat, the plight of animals --pets, strays or those in the zoo too deserve a thought.

With the city wilting under intense heat wave conditions, it was 44.5 degrees recently, Metrolife braved it to the National Zoological Park, commonly known as the Delhi Zoo, to not just relieve childhood memories of seeing the majestic big cats, cacophonic monkeys, lazing crocs, deer and other fascinating endangered species of fauna, but also to find out how summer had been treating them.

Enter the vast expanse of green and brown and you can feel the stillness all around.  
Not a leaf moves, the water in the moat and the pools for the animals, green and dense with algae, stands still. The afternoon quiet is overwhelming. Affected by the searing summer sun even the birds refuse to chirp. The stillness is broken by the bark of the deer resting under a scraggly Keekar tree and the deep grunt of the tiger making its way to the pool to escape the blistering heat.

“During the days when there is so much heat, we make sure that all the cages are equipped with efficiently working fans and coolers,” Riyaz Ahmed Khan, curator of Delhi Zoo, tells Metrolife.

While nets have been raised to prevent the direct sunlight hitting the animals, regular sprinkling of water over the animals is also a part of their daily routine, he informs.

“During summers, the animals, especially the big cats, feel very weak and dehydrated which makes them lazy and unwell. For this reason, our veterinaries are always on duty and we feed the animals with glucose at regular intervals,” Khan tells Metrolife.
Alipore Zoo, the country's oldest formally stated zoological park, very recently for the first time started availing the services of a dietitian for its animals.

On being asked if the Delhi Zoo too has a dietician for the animals who looks after the quantity, tests the quality, checks the nutrient value of the food given to the animals, besides changing the menu according to the season, Khan said, “We don’t have a dietician for animals because each of them is fed according to the centralised norms set by the government.” However, the food intake of the animals is one to two kilograms less in summers as compared to winters,” he added.

While Delhi Zoo is taking care to ensure comfortable conditions for its inmates, lack of sensitivity on the part of visitors is a big problem. People hardly heed the advisory asking people “not to feed the animals”. Worse, they disturb the animals, especially the monkeys and the big cats, by throwing plastic bottles at them.

Metrolife spotted not just children but even adults engaged in this disturbing activity. When a visitor was asked why he was doing so, he replied, “I want my child to see how a lion roars!”

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