Nainital recieves the first snowfall of the season leaving people under the effect of teeth-biting cold, icy winds and vehicular trafic. While the scenario proved to be merrily poles apart for the Nainital zoo inmates. For Rahul, a 12-year-old Red Panda who arrived in Pt. GB Pant High Altitude Zoo in Nainital last month, things could not be better. It is walking, running and going on a roll on the snow-covered ground.
Rahul is not the only animal enjoying the weather. Many of other high altitude animals of the zoo like leopards, blue sheep, Himalayan palm civet and bears can be seen frolicking in the snow throughout the day.
“This year’s snowfall has broken records of many previous years. This is good in a way but we have to be careful about their health. More than 90% of animals belong to high altitude environment hence they are having a good time,” said Tejasvini Arvind Patil, zoo’s director.
For the zoo authorities, protecting the animals from variations in day-night temperatures is vital. They are ensuring that they get a high protein diet and monitoring the temperature in their enclosures besides maintaining a vigil on their health.
The inmates are already being provided space to play around.
Yogesh Bhardwaj, senior veterinary officer of the zoo, told TOI that special attention is being given to the red panda pair, Rahul (12 years) and Sonam (1.5 years), who were brought to the zoo recently. “They are being fed with extra honey apart from their regular diet. This will protect them against the weather. During the day, the temperature soars up to 20 degree and dips to as low as zero degrees in the wee hours of morning,” said the vet.
Apart from the pair of red pandas, other inmates like the pair of Royal Bengal Tigers, Asiatic black bear, a number of leopards, blue sheep and sambar, barking deer and goral can be seen sunning themselves in the winter sun.
To protect these animals at night from the cold and humidity, automatic heaters and warmers have been installed, said Rekha Palariya, wildlife biologist at the zoo, who keeps a close watch on the behavioural pattern of the animals.