Baths, energy drinks, fans help big cats in SGNP beat the heat

May 20, 2013, 07:00 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Summer in the city has reached a searing crescendo, and few in the city have it as good as the wild denizens of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli

While you sweat it out under the unforgiving sun, workers and volunteers at the national park are working overtime to ensure that the soaring temperatures do not affect the big cats in their care.

A bengal tiger enjoys a long shower

Extra fans have been installed in the enclosures to aid air circulation. What’s more, each beast gets to luxuriate in 10-minute long showers. They also get to glug on energy drinks at regular intervals, to keep dehydration at bay.

Dog days are over
Speaking to MiD DAY, Chief Conservator of the Forest and SGNP director Sunil Limaye said, “Like humans, the rising temperature affects the wild animals. So I have instructed my team to take special care of the big cats that are in our captivity. From the beginning of March, we installed extra fans outside the cages, which help keep their surroundings cool.”

Extra fans have been installed outside the cages to aid air circulation. Pics/Kiran Bhalerao

Among the beasts that are lapping up the royal treatment this summer are endangered species like the Bengal tigers, white tigers, leopards and rusty spotted cats, all guests of SGNP’s rescue and rehabilitation centre. March onwards, the cages and enclosures are being cleaned daily and sprinkled with water to keep the temperatures down. Hygiene is a priority, as the authorities don’t want the beasts to fall prey to diseases in the heat.

According to Dr Sanjiv Pinjarkar, a vet at the park, “The rising temperature can cause sunstroke in animals, which may even result in their death: so we are taking special care of the big cats and other animals in our captivity at the rescue and rehabilitation centre. We also provide energy drinks to them Glucose-D and powders rich in electrolytes are mixed in the water that the animals drink, so they don’t get dehydrated.”

The veterinary doctor and his team perform medical examinations of the animals every day. Staff members from the rescue team are also posted outside the enclosures round the clock, to keep tabs on the behaviour of the animals and report the slightest irregularity.

Depending upon the temperatures, the animals are also given showers to keep them cool. “The animals really enjoy the showers. They relax and eat their food well after that,” added Pinjarkar. The animals dine like kings – or better – being kept on a diet of 10 kg meat every day for six days of the week.

Even earning your keep isn’t much of a task if you are a big beast in the park. The tigers and lions are released into the forests in turns, to preen before visitors who sign up for the safaris. “All the animals aren’t released together. When the tiger is released for the safari, we make sure that the pool in the safari area is filled with water. So in case they feel like cooling off, they can drink from the pool. A small pagoda has also been erected so that the animals can rest in its shade if they want to,” said, D Pawar, superintendent of the Tiger and Lion Safari at SGNP.

Wild stats

The number of Royal Bengal tigers in captivity at SGNP (6 of which are yellow and 3 white. Of the 3 white tigers, 2 are male and 1 is female.)

The number of lions in captivity at SGNP.

The number of leopards in captivity at SGNP. 

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