Amid lockdown, animal world relaxes in zoo

Amid lockdown, animal world relaxes in zoo

Gaurs in a friendly fight at the Mysuru Zoo.

Ever since the century-old Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (Mysuru Zoo) was closed for visitors, as part of the lockdown imposed since March 25, to check the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19, the animals and birds in the menagerie are a relaxed lot.

Tuesday is the weekly holiday for the Mysuru Zoo since many years, may be since its establishment in the year 1892 by Tenth Chamaraja Wadiyar. But, holiday for a zoo means that entry of visitors is restricted, as the animals have to be fed and maintained regularly. However, even Tuesdays are open during certain weeks, like when it is a public holiday or vacation for educational institutions.

Thus, the 40-day lockdown is a good opportunity for the animals in the zoo for some privacy. The second longest ever break for the Zoo was in 2017, from January 4 to February 2, due to bird flu scare.

Retired professor P V Nanjaraja Urs recalled that a rare holiday to the zoo was on September 23, 1974, when Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, the last maharaja of the erstwhile Mysuru state, died. Chronicler of Mysuru Echanuru Kumar said, except for the one-month break in 2017, even when pandemics like plague struck, the zoo was not closed for more than a week.

With no tourist footfall, there seems to be a change in the behaviour of animals, irrespective of species. The zoo is home to 1,400 plus animals and bird of 152 species, from over 25 nations. Chimpanzee Mason is in a dull mood as he enjoys human movement, while the remaining animals are in a happy and relaxed mood.

Zoo Executive Director Ajith Kulkarni said, “It’s happy time for animals and birds. Reduced human movement and no noise inside and also from outside the zoo is a bliss. We have nearly 200 staffers, but, due to social distancing, we have limited their entry to around 130, during the lockdown. Use of masks and sanitisers is a regular protocol in the Zoo. The only addition is use of sanitisers at the main entrance and the use of masks by those who feed the animals and birds. We used to spray disinfectants once a month in our entire premises. We have increased its frequency to once a week now.”

“During summer, animals do not come out of their enclosures often. Hence, additional arrangements like water sprinklers, ice, fruits, electrolytes and others are made, to beat the heat. It has become a norm during summers to adopt scientific methods for animal care,” he added.

Mysore Zoo, with 80 acres of land, includes Karanji Lake and is spread over 157 acres. Nandankanan Zoological Park, a 437-hectare zoo and botanical garden, in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, established in 1960, is the largest facility in India.

However, Mysuru Zoo figures in the list of top 5 zoos of Asia, by Listly, followed by Singapore Zoo and Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Pattaya Thailand. It also figures in the list of top 10 zoo in Asia, according to Trip Advisor poll, followed by Singapore Zoo; Khao Kheow Open Zoo; Chimelong, Xiangjiang Safari Park, Guangzhou, China; Adventure World, Shirahama-cho, Japan; Million Years Stone Park and Pattaya Crocodile Farm, Thailand; and Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa, Japan.