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    1. Long Distance Road Transportation of Hippopotamus
    2. Population Control By Segregation Of Blackbucks At Kanpur Zoo
    3. Biosecure feed store at Kanpur Zoological Park
    4.Chimpanzee enclosure enrichment
 
 
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1. Long Distance Road Transportation of Hippopotamus
By K.Praveen Rao* and Dr.U.C.Srivastav**

Introduction- Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is a river-living mammalian species of tropical Africa. The Hippos and whales have the common ancestor. The animal spends most of its time standing or swimming underwater, where they feed on aquatic plants; it is herbivorous in nature.

Male Hippo in its enclosure in Kanpur Zoo

The animal is known to spend about 16 hours a day inside water. The Greeks named them "river horse."It has short-legs and broad body with a tough greyish brown coloured skin. The animal mostly defecates in water. It is the third largest land animal after elephant and white rhinoceros. The male is about 160 cm tall at the shoulder and weighs about 5 tons where as the female is slightly smaller. The body is nearly hairless. The mouth is wide, and the incisors and lower canines are large ivory tusks which grow throughout life. The eyes and nostrils are near the top of the head, thus the animal can see and breathe when in water in submerged conditions. It breaths every 4 - 5 minutes. Hippopotamus usually live in herds. At night groups of animals feed on the shore. They also bask on the shoreline and secrete a red oily substance, which is a skin moisture and sunblock and protects the animal against germs. When alarmed, animal rushes to the water. Each breeding female can give birth to one calf every two years. The hippopotamus is hunted for meat, tusks. Africans have used the hide for shields and whips. Once widespread in Africa, the animal is now rare. Presently they are restricted to eastern central and southern sub - Saharan Africa.

Hippo in transport cageHippopotamus in Zoo environment-Hippos were in zoos and were popular among the visitors for many years. The first Hippo was displayed in London Zoo way back in the year

1850.First Hippo was introduced in Kanpur Zoological park in the year1977 and was named "Dhiraj". Since then they have adopted to the climatic conditions of the zoo. The animals have been provided with an enclosure of the size 1130 sq.mts. In which the water pool occupies half the area with a concave bottom. The open space has the feeding platforms and mangers. The entire pool is divided in to two halves with one breeding pair kept on one side and two males a female and a calf on the other side to check territorial fight. The breeding history of the animals is one of the best in the zoo environment. The numbers have increased to six. The animal is a voracious feeder and consumes more than 80 kg of fodder every day. It is a bit costly affair to maintain a big herd in zoo conditions. The habit of the animal is to defecate in the pool of water, hence cleaning of the moat and change of water is needed at regular intervals. As the numbers increase the rate of cleaning cycle also should be fastened to keep hygienic conditions. To keep a balance on the above factors and to bring species diversity in the zoos animal exchanges were proposed.
Animal exchange was planned between Kanpur Zoological park, U.P. and Sakkarbaug Zoo, Junagarh, Gujrat.According to the exchange programme a pair of Hippopotamus, a pair of Hog deer and some birds were to be transferred to Junagarh in exchange of a pair of Tigers along with some birds. The proposal was approved by the Central Zoo authority Vide its letter no CZA F no.23-1/2009-CZA (M),dated 23-11-2009.
According to mutual agreement between both the Zoos, the male Hippo was to be transported by Kanpur Zoo to Junagarh by Kanpur Zoo authorities and the female Hippo would be transported later by Junagarh authorites.
As a matter of routine, only younger and smaller individuals should be preferred for exchange due to ease of transportation. But in this case existing pair was selected for exchange, thus the larger male of about 20 years was to be transported. Thus male Hippopotamus, named NEERAJ aged 20 years was transported under exchange programme from Kanpur Zoological Park, Kanpur to Sakkarbaug Zoological Park, Junagarh.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION
The method of transportation and the modalities were discussed at length and many rounds of discussions were held between Director, Veterinarian, Forest Range Officers, Keeper and other field staff who participated in earlier exchange programmes. After the discussions the following activities were planned.
1. Construction of cage of suitable size.
2. Acquaintance of the animal to the cage
3. Selection of route for transportation
4. Handpicked Personnel for transporting.
5. Selection of season for transportation
6. Loading of the animal in the truck
7. Food reserve, Medical kit and other equipments
8. Frequency of water bath
9. Precautions adopted during transportation

Construction of cage of suitable size- The male Hippo was fairly a big animal and required a cage of suitable size and strength. The total transporting distance from Kanpur to Junagarh was about 1400 kms. Thus the cage should also be in a position to cope with the bumps and jerks on the road along with a heavy animal inside. Thus the cage of 3.60mts (length) X 1.50 mts (width) X 1.80 mts (height) angle iron with 60mm X 60mm X 6 mm dimensions was chosen for construction of the cage. At one end a slide up door was fixed with iron bars of 25 mm thickness. The top of the cage was also constructed with iron bars of 16 mm and were fixed at a spacing of 8.0 cms to allow proper ventilation to the animals and to allow drenching of the animal to keep it cool and moist. The front end, sides bottom and the head portion of the roof were covered with wooden planks of the size.0.3 mt width X 0.025 mts thickness and appropriate length. The wooden planks placed at the bottom and front end were joined closely but the side planks were spaced to allow free flow of air. Additional reinforcement was placed on the front end and back end to sustain impact of the animal when it is loaded and tries to escape the cage. Thus a cage of suitable size and strength was constructed.

Acquaintance of the animal to the cage-To make the animal acquainted with the cage, the cage was placed in the enclosure two months before the expected date of transportation. The entry door (Sliding up door) was pulled up and was tied with a thick plastic rope and the other end of the rope was fixed to the ground with suitable designed nails. The sliding arrangement is shown in the photograph presented with the article. So that on the day of transportation the animal could be locked instantly. Feed was served inside the cage. Initially the animal showed reluctance, but later the animal was used to the cage and was moving in and out of the cage freely.

Selection of route for transportation-It is a great challenge to transport a fully grown amphibious animal longer distance. Thus comfortable route with minimum jerks and bumps and with facility for water and feed all along the way is of utmost importance. Two probable routes chosen for transport are as follows-
Route I- Kanpur Jhansi Shivpuri Guna Ujjain Ahmedabad Junagarh.
Route II- Kanpur Etawah Firozabad Agra Bharatpur Mahuwa Balaji Crossing Dausa Jaipur Ajmer Nathdwara Udaipur Gandhinagar Rajkot Junagarh
The total distance covered by Route I was1393kms and that of Route II was 1500Kms.Though the second route was longer by 107kms.Route I has many state high ways and few national high ways and certain least populated areas. Thus the expected jerks and bumps on these roads are more and at the same time in the case of emergency immediate assistance was a remote possibility due to least populated areas along the road.The Route II had most of its way with national high way and the Golden quadrilateral the national highway no 2.Thus the Route II was chosen for transport because of the above mentioned facts such as least jerks and bumps on national highways and the facility for watering and feed availability along the way.

Handpicked Personnel for transporting-The arrangements for transportation of the Hippo were satisfactory. But the real challenge is to transport the animal safely to its final destination. The guidelines issued by the central zoo authority for transportation of the animals clearly spell that a veterinarian should accompany the transporting animal. Thus the first person in the team was a veterinarian. Later a team of staff for assisting the doctor during transportation was carefully selected. Any Smallest of the mistake would prove detrimental. It would result in the loss of life of a precious animal and at the same time bring bad name to the organisation. Hence a careful selection of the personnel for transporting is very much essential. The people should be well acquainted with the habits of the animal under consideration and also be capable to tide over difficult situations. The group should be cohesive and share the responsibility and should be readily accepting the duties assigned and to take up the challenges involved. Keeping in view the experience and past history of transporting the animals, Mr.J.P.Awasthi, Forester was chosen. Keeper Ramesh Chandra at present is looking after the tiger. He has a long drawn experience of handling the animals. Hence he was chosen as third member of the team. Mr.Vinod Kumar, Sweeper is an active member of the zoo. Many times he was assigned the duty of hand caring of the orphans.He is technical bent of mind to tide over the difficult situations. He is also responsible for maintenance of hygiene of the animal. Thus he was chosen as the fourth member of the team. Thus the team was as follows-

TEAM MEMBERS:

DR. U. C. SRIVASTAVA Veterinary Officer
Mr.J.P. AWASTHI Forester
Mr RAMESH CHANDRA Keeper
Mr.VINOD KUMAR Sweeper

Selection of season for transportation-The initial approval of CZA was given by letter F no 23-1/2009-CZA (M) dated 06-04-2009.It was decided not to transport the animal during summer as the animal was amphibious in nature and it restricts itself to water for about 16 hours a day. Thus transporting such an animal during summer was not advisable and decided to postpone it till on set of early winter. But during end of September and first half of October it was still hot and was not conducive for transporting an animal like hippopotamus.Thus an extension was sought for transporting the animals.The proposal was accepted by CZA and period was extended by its letter no 23-1/2009-CZA (M) dated 23-11-2009.
The time of transportation was decided around third week of December. Because the nights will be cooler and the animal is to be transported longer distance during nights and during day the animal will be transported during early hours and late evenings. During the day it should be rested in shady places.

Loading of the animal in the truck-

Finally the day of transportation has come. The date of the transportation was 23rd December, 2009.The animal was not given its feed on the regular time. The regular time of the feed was around 10-30 am when it is provided fruits and protein diet and green fodder is given around 2-30 pm.The animal given its feed around 4-30 pm.The animal readily entered the cage for its feed. At the right moment the shutter was dropped and the animal was taken into the cage. As and when the shutter was closed the animal became little violent and pushed its heavy body against the walls and the shutters. As the cage was designed keeping in view all these eventualities no damage occurred to the cage. But the animal received some bruises in the course. The animal was given the first aid. All the persons involved in the operation were asked to leave the place for a while so that the animal recovers from trauma. The animal got used to the situation and calmed down after some time. At this time the crane did its rest of the job of loading the animal on to the truck. The transition of animal from its enclosure to the truck was in a slow and steady pace, So that the animal is least disturbed. Once it was loaded in to the truck it became restless once again, but calmed down after a while. The journey was started at 11.30 P.M. on 23-12-2009 from Kanpur Zoo premises.

Food reserve, Medical kit and other equipments-

ANIMAL FEED:It was essential to carry green fodder and other feed to meet the exigencies. Both chopped and full length jowar strands green fodder, vegetables and Fruits were carried as reserve. The animal feed with the following composition was also kept as reserve-(Wheat 30%;Maize 20%;Treacle/Molasses 10%;Small fragments of corn or small Ruby containing(Gram+ Lentil+ Horse bean+ Kidney bean+ Legume+ Fragmented legume+ Grain dust+ Oil cake+ Gram husk+ Pea husk)40%
MEDICINAL KIT:- During transporation the animal may be subjected to a different environment unusual to its daily routine.This will result in stress, and loss of apetite. The fluctuations in the temperature regime might result in dehydration, temperature rise, stomach disorders etc., the animal may have to be tranquilized for further treatment. Thus the following important medicines were carried to meet out, any probable incidence:-

1 Antibiotics Ceftrioxone + Tazobactum injection (For Parentral use)
Sulfadiazine+ Trimethoprim Bolus (For oral use)
2 Corticosteroids Prednisilone/Triamcinolone Acetonide & Dexamethasone ( Injectable)
3 Behaviour modifier & Anti-emetics Triflupromazine

4 Antipyretics / Analgesic & Anti-inflammatory agents Paracetamol/Nemisulide &Meloxicam;

5 Antiseptics Lorexene Cream/Negasunt Dusting Powder / Topicure Spray /Himax Lotion & Betadine lotion.
6 Miscellaneous Disposable syringes(50ml/20ml/10ml /5ml & 3ml.
Cotton and Bandage Methylated Sprit and Dettol.
7 Tranquillizing Kit
Disinject Dart Gun, Blow Pipe Xylazine/ Ketamin & Yohimbine Injections.

OTHER EQUIPMENT: The animal has to be kept as far as possible.For drenching the animal two cans; rope and watering trough rubber tube were kept for pouring water on the animal at regular intervals.

Frequency of water baths:
Hippopotamus being an amphibious animal, a prime consideration was laid towards the maintenance of humidity to avoid the drying of the external body surface. Throughout the journey continuous baths were given to the animal. The major considerations for giving baths were
1) Temperature of the atmosphere,
2) Availability of water sources and journey breaks for retiring this heavy animal
Therefore following schedule was adopted:-
S.No Date Place Time of bath Distance covered(Km.)
1 23-12-09 Kanpur Zoo, U.P. 09.00 PM 0 Km
2 24-12-09 Sikandara, U.P. 02.45 AM 90 Km.
3 24-12-09 Etawah, U.P. 06.00 AM 85 Km.
4 24-12-09 Agra, U.P. 10.40 AM 140 Km
5 24-12-09 Bharatpur, Rajasthan 12.35 PM 60 Km.
6 24-12-09 Mahuwa, Rajasthan 03.00 PM 60 Km
7 24-12-09 Jaipur, Rajasthan 06.40 PM 100 Km.
8 24-12-09 Ajmer, Rajasthan 11.30 PM 142 Km.
9 25-12-09 Ajmer, Rajasthan 07.30 AM Night halt
10 25-12-09 High way No NH79 , Rajasthan 11.00 AM 80 Km.
11 25-12-09 High way No NH79 , Rajasthan - 01.30 PM 80 Km.
12 25-12-09 High way No NH79 , Rajasthan - 04.15 PM 90 Km
13 25-12-09 High way No NH79, Rajasthan - 06.45 PM 70 Km.
14 25-12-09 High way No 8, Rajasthan - 09.00PM 70 Km.
15 25-12-09 High way No 8, Rajasthan - 11.00 PM. 95 Km.
16 26-12-09 Gandhinagar, Gujrat 03.00 AM 135 Km.
17 26-12-09 Gandhinagar, Gujrat 07.20 AM Night halt
18 26-12-09 High wayNo NH8B , Gujrat 09.45 AM 87 Km.
19 26-12-09 High wayNo NH 8B, Gujrat 01.00 PM 99 Km
20 26-12-09 Rajkot, Gujrat 02.15 PM Lunch break
21 26 -12-09 Rajkot, Gujrat 04.00 PM 140 Km.
22 26-12-09 Sakkarbaug Zoo, Gujrat 07.00 PM 127 Km

Precautions adopted during transportation;-

1) The driver of the carrier was very careful and cautious about the movements of the animal inside the cage so that the vehicle may not be disbalanced.
2) While applying brakes, the speed of the vehicle was reduced well in advance.
3) Speed of the vehicle was maintained at an optimum speed.
4) Animal was given sufficient break to retire himself.
5) Strict monitoring of the animal behaviour and condition was done on every stoppage.
6) Not much emphasis was given to feed the animal during journey but chopped and raw Chari was given daily. All left over food stuff was discarded next morning and thorough cleaning of the cage was done with D-125 solution. In between the journey period-Potato, Cauliflower, carrot, Guava and Banana were given. The Banana was relished by the Hippopotamus along with the Animal feed.

A total distance of 1740 km. was altogether covered to reach the destination, because of some diversions on the road. Thus the total road distance was more than the expected distance.

FINALLY THE ANIMAL WAS LANDED SAFELY INTO THE HIPPOPOTAMUS
ENCLOSURE OF SAKKARBAUG ZOO, JUNAGARH AT 09.00 PM. ON 26-12-2009
THE MARATHONIC MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED VERY SUCCESSFULLY. THE HIPPOPOTAMUS WAS TRANSPORTED 1740 KILOMETERS FROM KANPUR ZOOLOGICAL PARK TO SAKKARBAUG ZOOLOGICAL PARK, JUNAGARH.


The Authors are-
*K.Praveen Rao, Director, Kanpur Zoological Park, Kanpur, U.P.
**Dr.U.C.Srivastav, Veterinary Officer, Kanpur Zoological Park, Kanpur, U.P.

 
 
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