Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 25:
It is not just humans who need protection against the scorching summer sun. With the mercury having crossed the dreaded threshold of 42 degrees Celsius in the Odisha capital, a whole host of special arrangements have been put in place at the Nandankanan zoo on the outskirts of the city to keep the animals, birds and reptiles cool in the days ahead.
Special diets, thatched roofs, sprinklers, water showers and shade nets are just some of the measures made by the zoo authorities to help them weather the sizzling heat and cool off as the summer reaches its most unbearable part. They are being served seasonal fruits, nutritious and fibre-rich items to survive and sustain the extreme weather conditions. These range from green fodder, meat, fish, bananas, watermelons and pears to chilled kheer, khichdi and even mango beverages.
With the mercury soaring high, the diet of all the animals has also undergone changes. “We provide the animals and other creatures diet food during the season. The birds get seasonal fruits like watermelons and muskmelons,” said deputy director Manoj V Nayar, adding that thermo-care measures like providing vitamin tonics and tablets are a part of the diet for the carnivorous animals.
“However, for reptiles, we keep the temperature cool in their enclosures, as some of them are from humid climates while their food remains the same,” he said.
Predator birds such as eagles and vultures and others like hornbills and herons have shade nets spread over their enclosures. These filter the sunrays and thereby, reduce the heat inside. Deer, bears, ostriches and zebras have been provided with pyramid-shaped thatched roof inside their enclosure where they can rest during the hottest part of the day.
Ostriches, zebrsa and giraffe have been provided a different kind of luxury — water sprinklers.
For the tigers and lions, the amount of meat has been decreased to ensure better metabolism, while herbivorous animals such as deer and sambars are served with watermelons and green coconut water.Bears are being served with sugarcane juice and watermelon to beat the heat.
The most privileged ones though are the elephants. They have the luxury of roaming freely in a spacious enclosure. A huge pond filled with water has been created for them to wallow in the mud pit.
Apart from these, the animals are also being given a special ‘summer diet’ of fruits and a bath with sprinkling water.
Temperature in the zoo is being monitored on a daily – and even hourly – basis to make sure the animals and birds have adequate protection against the heat.
“It is a process that is followed every year to keep the animals and birds in comfort during summer. We take special care by placing soaked sacks or dried grass to maintain coolness inside the enclosure. Soaked sacks are also hung on the windows of some animal enclosures,” said another official of the Zoo.