Multivitamins and bonfire keeping zoo animals warm!

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Lucknow, Dec 16: Winters not only affect humans, but the zoo animals are also vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, although in a different measure.

With the onset of winters, the 800 odd animals of over 90 species in the Lucknow Zoological Gardens (LZG), which was formerly known as Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens, are faced with severe cold at present.

The zoo management has taken several measures to keep the animals warm and mitigate their discomfort due to cold wave.

The animals are being provided with multivitamins and special food and supplements to fortify their immune system to fight cold.

Besides, bonfire is lit in their enclosures, if the temperature dips considerably.

LZG Director Renu Singh told the sources today that reptiles, including snakes, pythons and vipers were the most vulnerable creatures as far as winters are concerned.

Since, these animals are poikilothermic (cold blooded), they cannot produce heat inside their bodies and get the same from the surroundings to keep them vital organs functioning.

The snakes have already gone in hibernation (winter sleep) and would lie inactive till the winters last, Ms Singh informed.

A 100 watt bulb is lit inside an earthen pitcher and kept inside the snakes' enclosure, whose floor is also covered with gunny bags to provide warmth. The hibernating snakes stay close to the warmed pitcher.

During hibernation, the snakes do not eat anything or even move to conserve energy.

Other animals are being given multivitamin doses mixed with food. ''Monkeys are being given eggs and peanuts,'' Ms Singh informed. Meanwhile, carnivorous animals such as lions and tigers are given special bedding prepared of 'para grass' to provide warmth. ''Bonfire is also lit in their enclosures, if the need be,'' the director informed.

Some exotic simian species are also given blankets to cope with the severe cold.

The pachyderms (elephants) are being fed sugarcane, while deer are being given sugarcane leaves.

Since, it also rains during winters, the zoo management is taking all measures to ensure that the roof of enclosures stay fit and do not allow rain water puddle inside.

The bird cages are being covered with special fibre sheets to insulate them from the chilly winds, Ms Singh averred.

The zoo management has also deferred the exchange of animals with the Tata Zoo, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.

LZG is exchanging hog and barking deers, red jungle fouls with grey lag goose and golden pheasants.

''However, as transportation and especially harsh weather conditions cause distress in animals, we have decided to postpone the exchange for the time being,'' Ms Singh underlined.

UNI

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