The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park will soon have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) due to some of their recent cases. The zoo recently witnessed the birth and rescue of striped hyena cubs and sacred baboon.
Last year, the zoo invested Rs 50 lakh to develop its infrastructure by adding the latest equipment and infrastructure for the critical care of animals. But the need for a NICU is imperative now as the zoo is acquiring new species – some of which are exotic and endangered.
B Vijaya Kumar, the zoo’s curator, told The Hindu, “We are making a proposal for a new NICU since we require additional staff who are specialists in handling newborns. Right now, we are managing with the existing staff and the newborns are being hand-reared by them. However, for a long-term sustainable solution, the zoo requires a NICU to deal with cases of newborns when the mother turns hostile.”
Last week, two striped hyena cubs were rescued from their enclosure when they mother, Swati, tried to kill them. She was successful in killing two other cubs before these two could be rescued. The mother didn’t give the zoo officials time to rescue the cubs that were born and killed them immediately. After half an hour these two cubs were born and were rescued almost immediately. Swati had preciously killed her newborns and the zoo officials expected her to take care of them this time around. But she had turned aggressive now too.
Vizag zoo previously received the distinction of being the third zoo in the country, after Patna and Mysore, to have successfully kept a record of captive breeding of hyenas. The striped hyenas are listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ (IUCN) Red List published in 2016.
The new born, rescued hyena babies have been named Akshay and Akhada. These babies are at risk due to low immunity. Ayush, a cub born in January, received immunity due to nursing from its mother, which these two lack. Right now, the cubs are on a diet of Royal Canin milk. Right now, the zoo has a staff for three for this purpose but the growing number of inpatients and newborns puts pressure on the existing team who keep having to work overtime.
At present, three hyena cubs and one sacred baboon are being hand-reared by the zoo in a separate section of the hospital. The zoo also has one languor, a barking deer, jungle cat and a painted stork in the in-patient section, kept away from the newborns with one of the staff dedicated to reduce infection in the newborns.