Tigers, jumbos and bears stay cool with fruit ice balls, coolers : The Tribune India

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Tigers, jumbos and bears stay cool with fruit ice balls, coolers

National Zoological Park steps up animal care amid unrelenting heatwave

Tigers, jumbos and bears stay cool with fruit ice balls, coolers

Elephants receive showers at National Zoological Park. MANAS RANJAN BHUI



Tribune News Service

Anshita Mehra

New Delhi, May 20

As the sun beats down relentlessly, the inhabitants of the National Zoological Park are finding ingenious ways to stay cool. Tigers are seen lounging in ponds, savouring the cool waters as they beat the heat.

Meanwhile, elephants eagerly anticipate the refreshing 4 pm showers, eagerly soaking up the relief they bring. The jumbos also have a pond to wade into to beat the heat.

And it’s not just the elephants and tigers, lions and leopards also revel in the cool comfort provided by strategically placed sprinklers and coolers across their enclosures.

A tiger cools off in a pond at National Zoological Park. MANAS RANJAN BHUI

It’s a scene of adaptation and resilience in the face of soaring temperatures, showcasing the zoo’s commitment to the wellbeing of its cherished residents. The maximum temperature soared to 47.8°C in the Capital on Sunday.

Amid predictions from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) of prolonged high temperatures, the zoo’s comprehensive summer management plan becomes increasingly vital in maintaining the health and comfort of its diverse animal population.

“We have initiated a summer management programme where sprinklers are utilised and running water is maintained in the pool to enable animals to cool themselves down,” explains Sanjeet Kumar, the zoo’s director. This proactive approach is crucial for alleviating the rising stress levels among animals due to the oppressive heat.

For the zoo’s more sensitive inhabitants, such as bears, additional precautions are imperative. “We have coolers installed in the night shelters for all animals, and for bears, we keep the doors to their shelter open so they can regulate their body temperatures,” Kumar explains. This flexibility empowers the bears to effectively manage their own thermal comfort.

Carnivores like tigers, lions and leopards benefit from sprinklers and coolers strategically placed within their enclosures. Rajesh Kumar, overseeing the lion enclosure, says, “Since lions are not particularly fond of water, we shower them with a pressure gun before allowing them out of the night shelters. Sprinklers in their area help maintain cooler air and grass, while the lions typically seek shade under trees or retreat to their dens during peak heat,” he elucidates.

Dietary adjustments that include serving fruit ice balls also feature in the strategy. Bhagvendra, a staff member, notes the importance of modifying the animals’ diets to prevent overheating and illness. “During summer, the animals’ diets are reduced to prevent overheating. For instance, lions, which typically receive 14 kg of meat, are given only 10 kg during the summer.

Apes, monkeys and bears are treated to fruit ice balls, watermelon, melon and other hydrating fruits to keep them cool and hydrated,” he reveals.

Furthermore, the zoo aims to enhance the visitor experience during the hot months by extending closing hours by an hour. Despite these efforts, the extreme heat and concurrent elections have impacted visitor numbers. In April, the zoo witnessed a significant decline in visitors compared to the previous year.

To further combat the heat, the zoo offers a lunch point inside where visitors can access cold water and beverages to stay refreshed. By tailoring measures to each species’ needs and adjusting visitor hours, the zoo strives to mitigate the impact of the heatwave, ensuring the wellbeing of both its animal residents and visitors alike as Delhi’s temperatures soar.

Have incorporated cucumbers in diet

We have initiated a summer management programme where fruits like watermelon and cucumber have been incorporated into the diets of animals. — Sanjeet Kumar, zoo director

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