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NZP residents raise collective shield against Covid-19

By Esther Verma Updated: May 10, 2020 8:11 pm

Director of zoo says animals are having a good time and fighting less among themselves during lockdown

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A Burmese mountain tortoise laying eggs at Nagaland Zoological Park. It is a rare sight as the NZP is the only place in India that artificially breeds the eggs of this species.

Esther Verma
Dimapur, May 10 (EMN):
Long before a tiger tested positive for Covid-19 in New York last month, zoos across the country have taken various steps to ensure that the animals are safe and well taken care of.

Here in Dimapur, the Nagaland Zoological Park (NZP) has also taken various precautionary measures. However, it has also faced many challenges in the last two months.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, the director of NZP, Dr. Prabhat Kumar, informed that the zoo was closed to visitors on March 17, even before official orders were passed.

Since then the zoo has been functioning like any other day minus the visitors, he said.

“There are 30-40 residents with their families in the zoo premises that are employed here and the biggest challenge was to get supplies, not just for them, but also for the animals,” informed Kumar.

According to the most recent report, the NZP has 376 animals, and to buy meat for the carnivores was difficult as they had to buy it in bulk, said the director.

“We formed teams and assigned different responsibilities so that all tasks can be possible; we also issued gloves and masks to all staff,” said Kumar and added that they availed five passes to procure food for animals as well as the residents during the lockdown.

Kumar also informed that some of the staff had collected money to purchase ration for the families residing inside the NZP.

“Apart from being restricted to move around, their salary is low so for them to bulk purchase is not possible; we collected around INR 50,000 and distributed rations to the families, especially the keepers,” shared Kumar and further appreciated his staff for their contribution.

“We were directly going to farms and getting the vegetables while getting non perishable vegetables for the animals in bulk,” informed Kumar adding that now because of relaxation of the lockdown, it has “eased up”, especially to get meat.

Other problems also include repair works of enclosures and other things.

“Few weeks back, due to strong winds, an enclosure was damaged but we managed to repair it at the earliest,” said Kumar.

Though there is an on-call temporary vet for the animals from the Veterinary department, the director informed that the government has finally assigned a permanent vet on deputation for the next two years.

“We were in dire need of a permanent vet at the zoo; this is not just a problem at NZP but also in other zoos across the country,” maintained Kumar.

With the lockdown in place for almost two months and ticket sales dropping to nil, Kumar informed that the revenue generated from ticket sales is meagre and is used for small repair works, cleaning and maintenance. He informed that the NZP attracts around 70,000-80,000 visitors in a year.

The director also shared that surprisingly, there were less fights between animals at the zoo during the lockdown. “There are no visitors right now and animals are having a good time; maybe because of the less stress, the less fights,” he informed.

Further, Kumar observed that conservation efforts in the state are visible, with people becoming more aware about wildlife and environmental issues. “It is a very good thing that has started in Nagaland and I am happy people are talking about conservation,” said the officer.

By Esther Verma Updated: May 10, 2020 8:11:01 pm
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