The new anti-cow slaughter law has left Bengaluru Bannerghatta National Park with no other option but to put animals on a chicken diet due to the non-availability of beef.
Bengaluru: The veterinarians of the Banarghetta zoo are worried about the side effects of this diet on wild animals if they are fed chicken for a long period. The new law has not brought relief to the zoo officials of Banarghetta national park. Wild animals were fed beef earlier and then they couldn’t procure beef for few months during the lockdown. In between they managed to provide them beef but now again because of the new anti- cow slaughter law, they have moved back to the chicken diet.
The executive director of BBBP (Bengaluru Bannerghatta National Park) said, ” We are a self-regulating zoo. We generate our revenue. Big carnivores like lions and tigers were given beef earlier as they are used to eating it. They were given chicken for only seven to eight days a year. We fed chicken to carnivores during the lockdown then we resumed back to beef for a short-while.”
“Now again we have switched to chicken. The amount of chicken provided to different carnivores depends upon their body mass. Adult lions and tigers need eight and ten kilograms of chicken,” she added.
The zoo authorities said that except for birds, reptiles, herbivores, and some omnivores all other animals like lion and tiger have become a little inactive. We give birds mixed grains or fruits depending upon their type. We give snakes, guinea pigs, and lab-grown mice to reptiles. They are not facing any issues as of now, Also for smaller carnivorous animals like wolves and jackals eating chicken is not an issue, said the biologist of Bannerghatta zoo.
Dr. Umashankar, veterinary doctor of the Bannerghatta zoo hospital said, ” Currently, we need 250 -176 kg chicken to feed the wild animals. Seventy percent of it is meat and 30% of bone is given to the animals. In between when we could procure beef before the new law was passed, we put them on a two-day chicken and four-day beef diet.”
The authority tried to feed mutton as an alternative but some of the carnivores refused to eat it. The zoo has no other option but to feed chicken.
“Management of these animals and their diet is very important. They have put on a little weight but we can manage it by reducing the quantity of chicken given to them. If we are giving them 10-12 kilogram of chicken, we will reduce it kilograms six to eight kilograms. We are keeping a check on them through lipid profile tests. If the carnivores are put on the same diet, they might face health-related issues in the future,” he added.
The anti-cow slaughter law has permitted buffalo meat but it cannot be fed to animals as it is not available in large quantities. The zoo authority has to stick to the chicken-diet as giving them any other meat will exceed their budget. A kilogram of beef costs Rs.200 on the other hand mutton costs Rs.450 and the price increases during festivals. The zoo management can’t switch to any other meat at this moment.
Dr. V. Jagadeeshwary, Associate Professor of veterinary and animal husbandry extension education department of Veterinary college, Hebbal said, ” Carnivores are flesh-eaters and that’s how they are classified. The chicken won’t have much impact on them. The body requirement of the wild animals are fulfilled by giving them chicken. “
The zoo authority of Karnataka has written to the government to exempt them from the new law due to health concern of wild animals, that are ordinarily fed beef. They are awaiting a final decision from the government.