Baby boom at Dhaka zoo
Thanks to the pandemic, the animals in Bangladesh National Zoo in Dhaka have had a blissful year, spared as they were the usual chaos, sound of vuvuzelas and prodding from curious onlookers.
However, there has been a flurry of activity of a different kind. At least 400 offspring of different animals were born at the zoo in the past four months.
Zoo authorities attribute this rise in birth rate to a tranquil environment due to the closure of the Dhaka zoo in Mirpur since April 2.
"All the animals are in good health. They are lively and energetic and roaming around inside their cages without any fear of public interference," said Dr Md Abdul Latif, director of the national zoo.
Two tiger cubs, 250 herons, 130 peacocks, 2 impalas, 2 African horses, 2 zebras, 1 hippopotamus, 4 monkeys, and 22 emus were born in the zoo during this time, said Latif.
Amid the lockdown, impala, a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa, has given birth for the first time in the zoo. With the newborn, the zoo now has seven impalas, added the director.
The two tiger cubs were born on May 26. They are called Abantika and Durjoy. The fisheries and livestock minister named them at a programme on August 16.
Dhaka zoo now has 11 tigers, said the director, adding that the last cub was born in 2016.
Besides, the director said they now have 14 hippopotamus at the zoo.
With the baby boom, they also have 370 deer. But their capacity is 170. "We are selling the additional deer and peacocks to mini zoos and people with certificates from the forest department," he said.
These animals are accustomed to breeding in the forest in their favourable environment. Due to lack of human presence, an ideal condition was created for breeding, the director added.
"We are also making sure that they [animals] are being provided with a balanced meal," he said.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists have urged the government to limit the number of visitors it allows as several animals are still in the process of delivery or carrying their babies. A crowded environment may cause problems for them.
About reopening of the zoo, the director said they did not get any direction from the ministry concerned in this regard. But they are ready to reopen.
Spread over an area of 186.63 acres, the zoo currently has a total of 3,150 animals of 135 species.