Free Press Journal

AC, ice punch… summer is ‘wellness’ time for zoo inmates


Thiruvananthapuram : Uninterrupted air-conditioning, fan, swimming pools, nutritious food, health supplements and fruit ice punch.

What more one can ask for to beat the scorching summer heat in Kerala, where the mercury level is soaring with each passing day.

These are not facilities at any five-star hotel but ones offered by the zoo here for its over 1,000 inmates to beat the summer heat.

As the temperatures soar, the authorities have made elaborate arrangements at the sprawling zoo premises and effected significant changes in the menu of animals and birds.

Located in a 36-acre land in the heart of the city, the Thiruvananthapuram zoological park houses about 1,150 animals and birds of over 120 species.

Water pools, sprinklers, air-conditions, coolers and fans have been fitted in cages and enclosures according to the nature of the inmates and their requirements.

Multiple showers are given to the animals to maintain the body temperature and seasonal and water-rich fruits and vitamin and mineral mixtures are provided in the regular menu, a senior zoo official said.

“Pools are arranged in the enclosures of animals like tiger, leopards, bear, hippopotamus and bison. We ensure regular water supply at the tanks and moats,” T V Anilkumar, Superintendent, Zoological Garden, told PTI.

“So that they can drink and take bath as per their requirements,” he said.

The enclosures of aquatic birds including white ibis and pelicans are already housed with sprinklers and an artificial pond and so the summer heat may not be a big issue for them, he said.

Air-conditioners have been fitted in the cages of reptiles especially, anacondas, as they are accustomed to cool climates, the official said adding that thermometers to monitor the daily temperature also have been kept at the snake enclosure.

Fans have been installed in cages of monkeys and birds like ostriches.

Tree leaves especially of bamboo have been spread at the cages to maintain a cooler environment.

Jacob Alexander, zoo veterinarian, said the main focus is to give the inmates ‘wellness’ and make them more ‘comfortable’ during the summer.

“We select and include species-specific food for the inmates. Fruits like watermelon, cucumber, pineapple, pumpkin and so on are included in the daily menu,” he told PTI.

Besides the regular food, mineral mixtures and vitamin supplements are also given.

While Himalayan bears are given ice punch with fruits like watermelon, monkeys are fed with groundnuts, bananas,  sugarcane, sprouted pulses and vegetables.

For birds and deer, vitamin powder is given with drinking water to reduce dehydration.

As the city zoo has a green environment and rich canopy, the heat threat is comparatively low, he said.

“However, the increasing presence of high-rise buildings around, the interruption in the flow of wind and the deterioration of air quality are some of the worrying factors for the inmates,” the veterinarian added.

Last year, an ostrich had died due to intense heat at the zoo here.

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