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SOS Rhino : In the News : Summer of content for Delhi zoo inmates

Summer of content for Delhi zoo inmates


Sanket Upadhyay, Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, May 14

It could well be the summer of content for the denizens of Delhi Zoo.

The city may be wilting under a scorching summer sun and few might be willing to brave the heat to visit the zoo. But no effort is being spared to make it a comfortable summer for the animals.

From increasing the size of the enclosures and repairing water coolers to ensuring that no new animals crowd the limited space, the authorities are doing everything.

" Work is under full swing to make the existing enclosures more natural and bigger within the specified area of the zoo," Delhi zoo director B.S. Bonal told IANS.

He said the expansion of enclosures for bigger animals had already been carried out. This would soon be done for the other animals as well.

" Some animals like the rhinoceros, white tiger, giraffes, deer and lions have already been given enclosures that are quite natural. Soon, it will be done for others also," he added, pointing out that animals preferred natural surroundings, not cemented enclosures.

" Birds and animals like to live in a natural environment. For that, it is necessary to replicate conditions resembling their natural habitat. More trees need to be planted along the enclosure and wider space needs to be given to give them a homely jungle-like feeling," said Bonal.

Interestingly, to ensure the comfort of the existing animals in the zoo, there are no plans to bring in new species this year to attract visitors. Bonal said more animals would mean an increase in maintenance costs and lesser space for existing animals.

" We have geographical constraints. So our basic idea would be to maintain the existing species of animals and keep them healthy and happy," he said.

To make the summer bearable, coolers were being repaired. Some enclosures are being covered with sheets to save the animals from the sun.

Of course, keeping the animals comfortable and in good health isn't an easy task.

As the summer season kicks off, one of the biggest challenges for the zoo would be the cleaning and refilling of dry moats. Most moats have hardly any water or are completely dry. And the one's with water have algae.

Bonal said defensively: "Algae formation is good for feeding birds. But the top layer of algae is cleaned to keep a check on hygienic standards of water.

" Moats in enclosures where animals don't require excessive water are being kept dry as of now. They will be filled up when the temperature rises further."

Elaborating, he said the purpose of a zoological park was not to provide visitors with yet another recreational place but to spread the message of conservation.

" People should understand that a zoo is not a place for picnicking. Earlier, people used to come here with their families, loaded with food. They used to feed the animals and they left all the waste behind while leaving.

" Such activity dirtied the area. No eatables are allowed now," he said.

But the public doesn't learn quite so easily. Despite the steps to contain the mess, plastic bottles, glasses and cups continue to float in the moats.

There is the added menace of visitors teasing animals.

" We have deployed our staff who try to stop people from teasing animals and throwing things in the enclosures. But we won't be able to put a complete stop if we do not get full support from visitors," Bonal said.

Spread across 176 acres, the Delhi zoo is home to almost 1,270 animals of 136 different species. It attracts almost 1.5 million visitors per year.

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