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Delhi Zoo moves to summer schedule; ORS, glucose, coolers beat the heat

New Delhi: Heavy-duty desert coolers and 'toofan' fans are out and energy boosters such as glucose and ORS are stocked up in Delhi's zoo to help its 1,200 animals beat the scorching heat.

It's 11.45 am and the sun is beating down on the 176-acre National Zoological Park without mercy.

As the mercury rises to 43 degrees Celsius, Vinod Kumar, 28, picks up a hosepipe and walks into the night house, where Tipu, Sita, Geeta and their 8-year-old mother Kalpana are kept in separate steel cages.

"It's time to give them a bath to keep their body temperatures down," the contractual employee, tasked with taking care of the family of white tigers, says.

Even as mercury soars to 47-48 degrees Celsius in peak summer, inside the night house, where the big cats are kept in steel cages, two large, heavy-duty desert coolers and four 'toofan' fans whirl non-stop to maintain the ideal temperature -- between 25 and 35 degrees Celsius -- for the animals, he says.

"It's comfortable 30-32 degrees Celsius in here, while it could be 40-41 degrees Celsius out in the open," Kumar says, as Sita saunters into a large wire mesh cage, ready for the bath.

The father, Vijay, a 11-year-old white tiger who shot to notoriety in 2014 after he mauled a man to death, ambles in the shade near an artificial, V-shaped pond.

"I bathe them three-four times a day. Besides, I take care they are not overfed as a light stomach helps deal with the heat," Kumar says.

"Their food is rationed, only 10 kg red meat per day in summer. Normally, the felines get 12 kg," the caretaker says.

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