Carnivores at Byculla Zoo face a change in diet amid lockdown

Carnivores at Byculla Zoo face a change in diet amid lockdown

With a 21-day lockdown in place, there has been a change in the dietary plans of animals in the Mumbai Zoo, officials said. A majority of the carnivores were earlier fed a staple diet of red meat. But amid the lockdown, they have now been forced to make do with chicken due to the shortage of buffalo meat in the city.

A pair of striped hyenas (Varun and Soumya), a pair of leopards (Drogone and Pinto) and a pair of tigers (Shakti and Karishma) have faced a change in their food choices owing to the 21-day lockdown. All six, along with four jackals in the Byculla zoo are being fed chicken meat as opposed to buffalo meat since March 25.

On average, the ten carnivores in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run zoo would consume around 50 kg of chicken and buffalo meat every day. However, with the lockdown in place, transportation of livestock from across the country, especially Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh has stopped. This has caused the shutting of Deonar abattoir as well as the supply of buffalo meat.

“Buffalo meat is not available since the slaughterhouse is closed and we are giving these animals chicken meat. In between when the slaughterhouse was open, we managed to get three to four days’ supply of buffalo meat. If this continues for too long, it might have an impact on their food habit as protein levels vary in different meats,” said Dr Komal Raul, veterinary, Byculla zoo told The Indian Express.

The zoo authorities have been trying to procure buffalo meat for the animals since the lockdown. They were able to export some for the ten carnivores on Friday.

While the carnivores have seen an alter in their diet, star attractions- seven penguins (Olive, Molt, Bubble, Donald, Daisy, Popeye and Flipper) at the zoo have continued with their favourite food, sharp-smelling fish.

The authorities have already bought two additional deep freezers to ensure seamless food supply. Each deep freezer is with a capacity of 500 litres to store meat and vegetables for the animals.

Zoo director Sanjay Tripathi told The Indian Express, “We have enough meat supply for the next ten days at least, and we won’t run out of food. On March 25, we had our first meat supply. We are not procuring chicken meat daily to minimise contact and procure in bulk.”

Earlier, the zoos were excluded from essential services but a timely intervention by the Central Zoo Authority, changed that.

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