By Bindu Jacob
May 2, 2001
NEW DELHI - The National Zoological Park here--better known as
Delhi Zoo--may be left with just half its Indian rhinoceros population
now with one rhino dying today and another in a critical condition.
Primary post-mortem report has attributed the death of 31-year-old
Dhabu to infection and intestine blockage.
Brought in from Assam a decade ago, Dhabu was found dead this morning
in the zoo enclosure with extensive injury marks on the head, suggesting
that it had banged its head against a wall in extreme pain. Zoo
officials said the carcass would be "decomposed" to preclude
any possibility of the infection spreading.
This even as the other rhino, 20-year-old Mohini, who is unable
to stand due to infection of the intestine, has been put on a saline
According to zoo officials, Mohini had been ailing since yesterday
and was extremely restless. "Having acquired an infection of
the intestine, she has been segregated fearing spread of the infection,"
said the Zoo Director, Mr. B. S. Bonal. "We are now conducting
a quick post-mortem to assess the exact cause of Dhabu's death and
plan medical rescue action to save Mohini."
The sudden tragedy has sent members of the Central Zoo Authority
and officials of the Union Environment Ministry rushing to the zoo.
Delhi Zoo has long prided itself on its four Indian rhinos, of
whom only two are now left in a healthy condition. Both--Ayodhya
(8) and Maheswari (4)--have been mothered by Mohini.
Dhabu's death has opened up a Pandora's box of allegations. Officials
charge that while several proposals have been submitted to the Central
Zoo Authority to provide adequate medical support to the zoo, "nothing
has come out of the discussions and the zoo is still functioning
with a medical staff of one veterinary doctor and one compounder
when the requirement is at least three doctors."