Current visitor-free environment of the zoo a blessing for the animals, say zoo officials
The national zoo has decided to sell some of its animals, including around 100 peacocks, from Thursday as the number of animals continues to increase amid the pandemic-induced closure.
The zoo authorities have received 12 applications from prospective buyers for the peacocks and all of them—mostly farm owners—will be vetted before the purchase to ensure that they can look after the birds.
Zoo Director Dr Md Abdul Latif said: “The zoo is now closed as per government directives, but animal care activities are still ongoing, which is why we are getting many newborn animals.”
Peacocks and emus had the highest fertility rate among birds, he said, adding that the zoo recently bought two incubators for bird eggs and had repaired an old one.
Nine emu eggs are currently incubated and 17 newborn emus are on display, but that number is eclipsed by peacocks. Seventy peacock eggs are currently in the incubators while a large number of newborns are at the boarding facility.
The zoo director expects the peacock eggs to hatch within 40-42 days and hopes that 40% of them will survive. “The newborn peacocks will be displayed from the boarding house in two months, after they mature a little and are vaccinated.”
“We are going to sell peacocks and chital deer from July 15. The Fisheries and Livestock Ministry has only permitted us to sell animals of these two species because we get more than the expected number of newborns from them every year,” Dr Latif said.
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The zoo was able to keep only 40 adult peacocks in its designated shed at a time, which was why it had to sell the extra birds, he explained.
The zoo authorities will sell two-year-old peacocks that are already in stock and are considered adults. A pair of peacocks is sold for Tk50,000, while a pair of chital deer is sold for Tk1,70,000.
Animals by the numbers
The national zoo of Bangladesh encompasses an area of 186 acres in the capital’s Mirpur area.
It currently houses 135 species of animals. The total number of animals is 3,150, which was 2,740 just six months ago—a clear and significant increase.
There are 418 large animals living in the zoo, of which 12 are newborns. Two hippopotami, three donkeys, three horses, two zebras and two impalas were born in the zoo this year. On the other hand, 10-12 deer are born every month, totalling to around 50-60 deer births in the last six months.
The zoo also has nine tigers and four lions, but the lions are up in years. Zoo officials said they had wanted to buy young lions, but were unable to do so due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bahar Hossain Talukder, in charge of reptile care at the zoo, said: “There are only three types of snakes here—rat snake, cobra and python.” He said the zoo authority had made a requisition to buy more snakes but that plan was also foiled by pandemic curbs. There was another snake, a banded krait, which died last winter, he added.
He continued: “The python laid eggs last winter but we failed to hatch them as we don't have any incubators, unlike the bird zone. The zoo authority does not want to buy one either because none of us are trained to operate it and it is risky. However, if we had an incubator and trained personnel, we could probably hatch snake eggs and would not need to purchase them."
Animals in good mood
The zoo administration and several animal caretakers think that the current visitor-free environment is a blessing in disguise, at least for the animals.
Md Osman Goni, in charge of large animals, said: “I have never seen so many animals born here before.”
Zoo Director Dr Latif said: “[Before the pandemic] around 12,000 visitors came to the zoo every day on average and many of them used to taunt the animals, give them food although it is clearly forbidden and throw stones at them.
“But now all the animals remain undisturbed and eat properly, which has boosted their immune system as well as sexual desire. As a result, we are getting newborn animals almost every day.”
Another testament to the notion of the animals’ good mood is that two of the five adult elephants of the zoo have learned to play football in a little over three months.