Mumbai: Byculla zoo loses one of its 8 penguins

Mumbai: The city has lost one of the young female Humboldt penguins on Sunday at 8.10 am in Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan also known as Byculla zoo after showing symptoms of dullness, inappetance (not eating), greenish stools and laboured breathing.

According to the report released by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), on October 18 – the female Humboldt penguin (green-blue) weighing three kilograms showed these symptoms and was immediately attended by the veterinary doctor who was appointed for taking care of penguin health and management. The stool samples were examined on the same day and culture sensitivity test was conducted which showed gram negative bacteria.

On July 26, after a seven hour flight from South Korean capital of Seoul, eight Humboldt penguins (three males and five females), aged between one and three years, were brought to Mumbai in four wooden boxes with temperature control and brought to the zoo in a refrigerated van. The penguins had not shown any signs of jet lag and were dived into a pool the moment the boxes were opened inside an 800-sq ft quarantine room at the Byculla zoo.

Penguins are found in the freezing waters along the coasts of Chile and Peru. And were kept in quarantine facility of the zoo for three months, and the facility was maintained as per the international standards having a quarantine room maintained at 16 to 18 degrees celcius, a kitchen, logistics support system, so that they can adjust to the new environment, were to be shifted to the main glass exhibit, which will be spread over 1,700 sq ft and will have a 400-sq ft pool sometime in this month.

While talking to the Free Press Journal, Dr Sanjay Tripathi, Director of the Zoo, said, “The health of the penguin was not improving despite of all the treatment and medicines provided by the doctors, however, she succumbed to illness and lost her life. The post-mortem was carried out at12.30 pm by the professors of department of pathology, Mumbai Veterinary College, Parel.”

Tripathi further added, “The other seven Humboldt Penguins birds (three males and four females) are healthy and are under constant observation.” Residents of Mumbai will have to wait for some more time before the penguins are brought out for public display.

Sandeep Deshpande, MNS leader of the MCGM, expressed his anger demanding to send all the remaining penguins back as they cannot survive in this temperature and the MCGM has wasted the citizen’s money for the air-conditioned enclosure for penguins.

Godfrey Pimenta, an activist from Watchdog Foundation, added, “The penguin enclosure requires temperature from 5-17 degrees centigrade to be maintained and we are living in a city where hardly the temperature falls below 20 degrees. The MCGM needs to take care of them else find a place to relocate them.”

The Byculla zoo is the first animal facility in the country that will exhibit penguins and this project was executed after seven years of planning in 2009 with the total cost of Rs 69 crore that involves the construction of glass enclosure and 20 metre tunnel that will house 450 species. The Humboldt penguin can grow up to 2.2 feet in height and weigh around five kg. On July 26 on the first day in the city, the eight penguins were fed with small sea fish. However, they are meant to consume up to eight kg of fish every day.

Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackarey took the project in his hands ahead of the civic polls 2017 and the MCGM this year in January passed tenders for purchase, construction, and maintenance after the US-based SIVAT and M/S Highway Construction agreed to design and develop 1,700-sq ft enclosure and 250-sq ft quarantine area. At the time of the arrival of the penguins on airport Thackarey, with his younger brother Tejas, visited the zoo to review the arrangements.

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