Carnivorous Animals in State Zoo to Follow New Diet Plan, 2-Day Fasting Introduced
GUWAHATI: The Assam State Zoo has introduced a new diet pattern for its animals starting this financial year with the primary objective of keeping the welfare of the animals in mind.
Speaking to G Plus, the DFO of Assam State Zoo, Tejas Mariswamy said, "Big cats (tiger/lion) were generally fed 6 days a week with beef being the staple diet. If we compare this with a wild tiger, it is seen that in the case of a wild tiger about one in every 10 to 20 hunt attempts are successful. An adult tiger can consume up to 40 kgs of meat in one meal and it may not kill again for four or five days. A wild tiger also has to protect its territory for which it moves around 15 to 20 kms every day. Absence of these aspects has a deep impact on the biology of the tiger, making it more like a domestic animal. Therefore it is important to control their feeding in such a way that there is no lethargy of mind and body setting in, in the tigers."
Further, considering the global trends in practices regarding feeding of the animals, Assam state zoo has introduced a two-day fasting for tigers and five-day feed in a week wherein on four days it will be fed beef and mutton on one day. The Assam state zoo is exploring opportunities to include more variety in the diet.
“The main aim of introducing two-day fasting is to make the animal think and thinking is extremely important to keep the animal mentally active,” the DFO added.
Being scavengers, vultures generally don’t feed every day. Therefore food will now be provided every alternative day only. Gradually, the zoo intends to shift to a twice-a-week feeding pattern for vultures.
With respect to the aquatic birds which were being fed dead fish, they will now be provided with live fish fingerlings which will be released in the pond. The aquatic birds will have to fish them as they do in natural surroundings. This is a sort of feed enrichment where the birds are made to exhibit natural behaviour.
Again, it was observed that the herbivores, especially deer, were overloaded with protein as observed by the health advisory committee of the Zoo. Now the feed has been modified accordingly in the new diet plan taking examples from Mysore zoo which is one among the best performing zoos in the country.
As a part to invoke the natural behaviour of the captive animals, food enrichment activities are being taken up whereby the food is hidden inside the enclosure or inside a bamboo stick or on trees etc to get the animals use their sensory skills to find the food.
Further, as per Central Zoo Authority (CZA) guidelines, deer will now be fed more on natural green grass and tree leaves and the vegetables and fruits will be gradually withdrawn or lessened. For quality green grass zoo will have the bigger hydroponic system Capable of producing over 1200 kgs of fodder grass per day.