No winter worries at Delhi Zoo

Carnivores given wooden platforms, heaters; deer get dry husk to sleep on; chimpanzees will snuggle in blanket.

The intimidating carnivores, the cold-blooded reptiles, the chimps, the deer and the multi-coloured birds — all at the Delhi zoo have begun to feel the drop in mercury.

And the officials, who have been monitoring the change in temperature, have started the preparations to keep the animals warm, cozy and comfortable during the winter.

To begin with, the zoo is arranging for wooden platforms and heaters for the carnivores.

"We have around 150 heaters for the carnivores. As they feel cold on the bare floor, we usually provide them with wooden platforms and keep the windows closed during nights and early mornings," curator R Khan told Newsline.

The chimpanzees will get blankets and the deer will have dry husk.

"We get truckloads of dry husk every year, especially for deer inside our zoo. At night, they sleep on the husk to keep themselves warm, though they eat it up at times when they are hungry," Khan said.

The diet of the animals is also set to change, with an increase in the amount of seasonal fruits and meat provided.

"We are giving them (the carnivores) 12 kg of buffalo meat every day now. In summers, we give each animal only 10 kg a day. We give chimpanzees milk too. Fridays are for fasting to maintain the body weight of the carnivores," Khan said.

Most of the supplies come from Mother Dairy, but there is a particular "tried-and-tested" contractor who has been providing meat to the zoo for years.

Khan said birds are being given sun-feed to keep them warm. Bears will get a little bit extra of their favourite snack — honey. Khan said honey helps keep the bears warm.

The reptile section will be closed to public as it's time for hibernation. "It has not become cold yet, so the reptiles haven't just yet gone into hibernation," Khan said.

The zoo doctor and veterinary officers will continue to be available for animals round-the-clock.

"Age contributes a lot to the health of an animal. If we feel that a particular animal or bird is not well, we take it off the display area. The creature also automatically goes inside to rest," Khan said.

In case an animal is unwell, guards keep a watch over it during the day and night. In case, the animal's condition gets worse, it is transferred to the zoo hospital, he said.

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