Mumbai: In the wake of cyclone Tauktae, all the animal inmates of Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan were shifted to holding areas/night shelters to keep them safe from the damages that could occur due to heavy rainfall and strong gusty winds on Monday afternoon. The zoo administration also put on alert its emergency response team to avoid any untoward incident, officials said.
Meanwhile, there were three incidents of tree fall in the zoo premises during the day. One of the trees near the zoo's nursery fell and a big branch of another tree fell near the enclosure of the spotted deer. The third tree fell on the road adjoining the zoo campus.
"All the animals, birds and even reptiles have been shifted to the holding areas. All the necessary arrangements were made on Sunday night. And, the animals were shifted to the holding areas by afternoon the next day. Animals are very sensitive to disasters and calamities like cyclones and immediately sense something is going on. Hence, shifting them to safe areas is our first response," said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director of Veermata Jijabai Udyan.
“The holding areas/night shelters are safe to avoid any damage from tree fall. A 33-member zoo emergency response team, comprising 30 animal keepers, one zoo curator and three veterinarians are all on alert and present at the zoo. We also have called in the gardening and tree-trimming team and security staff, which was put on alert to tackle any untoward incident. While no untoward incident took place, we had three tree falling incidents,” said Tripathi, adding that officials are keeping a close watch on the animals and their behaviour.
Zoo animals usually have at least two areas where they are housed- the holding area and the exhibit area/specialised enclosures. During visiting hours, zoo animals are housed in their exhibit area/enclosures. In the morning, before the zoo opens, they move into the holding area/night shelters for husbandry care and to receive food. "However, we moved them early to their holding areas to ensure they are safe during the heavy rain and storm. We have already been taking extra precaution towards animal care post the lockdown. Most of our staff have been living within the zoo in the lockdown to avoid contracting the virus while travelling to and fro," added Tripathi.
After it remained shut for 11 months during the first wave of coronavirus in the city, Byculla zoo had finally reopened on February 15, 2021. Following the second wave and lockdown announced by the state government, the administration was forced to shut the zoo once again from April 4.
Total 30 to 35 staff members, including keepers, zoo curator and veterinarians, have been living within the zoo premises for the past one and a half months to ensure safety and take care of the health of the animal inmates.