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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : May 2001 : Tragedy and trauma haunt the zoo

Tragedy and trauma haunt the zoo

By Bindu Jacob
The Hindu
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 drip.

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."



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