Delhi zoo inmates beat the heat, with some help

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 2:

With special water-spraying pumps, baths, grass thatches, air-coolers and nets made of special heat-resistant cloth, Delhi Zoo, one of the largest in Asia, is helping its 1,250 animals beat the heat. “We are trying to do our best to help the animals,” said zoo director BS Bonal. “Animals suffer as much as humans in this weather, so they need extra care and protection.” While pressure pumps spray water on some cages, others like that of

the Himalayan Ghoral deer have had artificial hillocks built in them to give shade and the deer a feel of its natural habitat.

Giant size coolers are fitted in the cages of the big cats. Inside the cages of the tigers and lions, heatproof mud dens have been built. The elephants are getting multiple baths every day, hosed down from trunk to toe. As a natural cooling process, lions and deer shed their fur during summers. Many cages also have heat-blocking “agro-net” coverings laid over them and some have had leafy shrubs planted in them to give extra shade. “Trees are the best form of shade because they are part of the natural habitat,” explained Bonal. “Pigeons and parrots breed in summers. So, they can lay eggs on the branches. Chimpanzees and other apes also prefer trees since they are able to leap around from branch to branch.”

Summer set in early this year in New Delhi with temperatures in recent days spiralling over 40 degree Celsius.

Animals at the zoo are getting extra baths, more water to drink and being fed lots of seasonal fruits to keep them cool and healthy. Summer is also a dangerous season for many animals falling prey to dehydration, heat strokes and waterborne diseases like diarrhoea.

“Watermelons and mangoes are great for herbivorous animals. For carnivores, we reduce the meat content in the diet. “Water pots are constantly filled and glucose dissolved in them,” said Bonal.