Hyderabad: The daily menu for Kadamba, the 11-year-old Royal Bengal tiger at the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) here, comprises eight kilograms of beef, 1kg of chicken and 500 grams of beef liver.
Kadamba’s daily food consumption might sound monstrous, but there comes a day in a week when the tiger literally ‘abstains’ from food, which means, on that particular day, there is no beef, no chicken and definitely no liver for Kadamba!
That day of the week is when the Zoo authorities do not feed the animals. Almost all the 100 carnivores and 350 herbivores in the zoo will be on a ‘fast’ that day. The reason for the once-in-a-week fasting, according to the authorities, is an attempt to ensure fitness. “We do this to ensure that the animals remain fit and there is no deposition of excessive fat in their bodies. This also ensures that their digestive system remains healthy,” says Shivani Dogra, Curator, NZP.
Fasting for animals is practised in all zoo parks across the country and diet rules prescribed by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) for mammals and reptiles are followed, she says.
M A Hakeem, Assistant Director, Zoo Veterinary Wing, says animals in captivity are made to fast once in a week to improve functioning of their digestive system. So, on Friday, all mammals, including carnivores and some reptiles too are made to fast. “Apart from improving their digestive system and reducing stubborn fats, it is good for their health,” he says.
Ayub Khan, caretaker for Kadamba, said, in the initial days of the practice, not just Kadamba but other animals too used to get restless and aggressive on fasting days. “No such behavior is noticed these days, though newly born animals are yet to learn the fasting routine,” he says. “In captivity, animals get ready-to-eat food and remain enclosed with limited movement. As a result, they gain weight and develop health issues like obesity and abnormal functioning of digestive system,” says Dogra.
“We are planning to experiment by making birds and other herbivore animals also fast once a week. The practice will start soon and if successful, we will continue it. Large mammals like rhinos and elephants are kept on partial fasting and they get a little food even on the day of fasting,” said Zoo curator Shivani Dogra.