Vandalur Zoo to restart animal exchange programs

Chennai:

Consecutive closures, delaying animal exchange and breeding programs and geriatric complications of wild animals in Indian zoos have impacted the animal population at Arignar Anna Zoological Park (AAZP) in Vandalur.

With animals continuing to succumb due to old age in the AAZP, zoo management plans to swap animals from three zoos across the country by the end of April. Officials said the animals and birds were constantly sick and had taken precautionary measures to protect them at the zoo.

In the past 15 months, five lions have died in the park, including the two (Neela, 9, and Pathbanathan, 12) who died of SARS-CoV2 in June 2021. Four tigers (three adults and a baby white tigress ), and two leopards have also died including an 18-year-old leopard, Jaya, who died in January this year in a squeeze cage as vets tried to take a nasal swab.

“At least 11 felids died in the park last year due to age-related issues and SARS-CoV2, and six ostriches died from bacterial infection. So we plan to swap animals from three different zoos in Patna, Karnataka and Vizag. This will help diversify the existing wild stock. Currently we have one giraffe and we are expecting one from Patna Zoo,” said Dr R Kanchana, Deputy Director of Vandalur Zoo.

From a zoo in Karnataka, they decided to trade tigers for lions. Other zoos have yet to confirm which animals are to be traded. Discussion continues between zoos through the central zoo authority.

“The primary goal of the exchange program is to bring balance to the animals in the zoo. They expect the wildlife exchange to happen by the end of this month. Additionally, the Vandalur Zoo recently donated two swans to Guindy National Park,” Kanchana said.

As the animals were sick last year, now the management has supported the animals by taking precautionary measures, and antiviral drugs are given to the animals in the park. Currently, the zoo has 25 tigers, 11 lions, 6 leopards, 19 ostriches and 15 birds.