The back-to-back lockdowns, delaying animal exchange and breeding programmes, and the geriatric complications of wild animals across the Indian zoos have left an impact on the animal population at Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP) in Vandalur.
With animals continuing to succumb due to old age in AAZP, the zoo management plans to exchange animals from three zoos in the country by April end. The officials said animals and birds were sick consistently, and they have taken precautionary measures to protect them in the zoo.
In the past 15 months, five lions have died in the park including the two (Neela, 9, and Pathbanathan, 12) that died due to SARS-CoV2 in June 2021. Four tigers (three adults and one white tigress cub), and two leopards also died of which an 18-year-old leopardess Jaya succumbed to death in January this year in a squeeze cage while veterinarians were attempting to take a nasal swab.
“At least 11 felidae died in the park last year due to age-related issues and SARS-CoV2, and six ostriches died of bacterial infection. So, we plan to exchange animals from three different zoos in Patna, Karnataka, and Vizag. This will help diversify the existing wild stock. Currently, we have a giraffe and we are expecting one from Patna zoo,” said Dr R Kanchana, Deputy Director, Vandalur zoo.
From a Karnataka zoo, they decided to exchange tigers for lions. The other zoos are yet to confirm which animals are to be exchanged. The discussion is going on between the zoos through the central zoo authority.
“The prior purpose for the exchange programme is to bring balance to the animals in the zoo. They expect the wildlife exchange to happen by the end of this month. In addition, Vandalur zoo gave two swans to Guindy National Park recently,” said Kanchana.
As the animals were sick for the last year, now the management sustained the animals by taking precautionary measures, and antiviral drugs are given to animals in the park. At present, the zoo has 25 tigers, 11 lions, 6 leopards, 19 ostriches and 15 birds.