Helping animals beat the heat during heatwaves

Karachi Zoo and Safari Park make arrangements to deal with unexpected change in weather

Karachi Zoo is home to over 900 animals, all of whom are at risk due to the heatwave that claimed the lives of thousands of animals and humans last year. (Bottom) workers dig the canal laid down to supply water to cages. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Safari Park administration have brought a major change in their water supply after they laid a canal water system that now supplies water to almost every cage of the zoo, in order to help the animals stay cool during intense heatwaves.

Speaking about the new water supplying system, the park's additional director Dr Kazim Hussain said that they acquired this system in the beginning of April and before that the supply was dependent on water bowsers. He said that water is supplied to these lines from the main water reservoir of the park that was built during the early days of Safari Park. Hussain added that the new system will also help the administration in cultivating the barren land of the park.

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Referring to the specific diet of animals and birds during summers, Hussain said that they increase the amount of glucose, minerals and vitamins as the temperature rises. He added that it is fine if the temperature rises to 44 degree Celsius for a day, but if the temperature remains high consecutively for three to four days, then this causes casualties.

Last year the heatwave was unexpected, which took lives of three mammals at Safari Park, Hussain said, adding that the park administration is prepared this time. He said that they have started monitoring the temperature and are feeding the animals accordingly. The animals are given ice blocks covered with glucose and minerals, Hussain said, adding that through this technique they are protected from dehydration.

Meanwhile, Karachi Zoological Garden authorities are all geared up to protect their animals against any possible heatwaves. Karachi Zoo, having more than 900 animals, is the largest zoo of the city.

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Talking to The Express Tribune, Karachi Zoo assistant director Dr Amir Ismail said that animals cannot express how they feel, therefore it is their responsibility to determine the requirements of the animals. Ismail added that the mercury has started to rise and zoo authorities have started taking measures for the animals to survive throughout the summers.

Ismail, who is also a veterinary doctor, said they usually increase the amount of glucose and multi-vitamins in the diet of the animals that helps them in fighting extreme weather. Other than that, the authorities also spray water in the cages so that the animals feel less heat and the cages can remain cooler, while the water is supplied to the cages through pipe lines. Ismail added that bigger the animal is, the more it will be affected by the heat.

Stray animals

According to Syed Mustafa Ahmed from Home Four Paw and Claw, an animal service provider, a total of 1,553 stray dogs died in the city last year due to the heatwave. Ahmed said that he, along with other animals enthusiasts, tried their best to take care of stray animals but since Karachi is a huge city, they were only able to manage things according to their resources.

Ahmed hopes that this summer everyone will contribute in saving animals on streets and suggested that everyone should put water pots outside their houses for the animals. He believes that if each one of us practices this, then many animals can be saved when heatwave hits the city this year.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2016.


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