In a concerning revelation, Delhi Zoo witnessed a spate of fatalities among its big cat residents—lions, tigers, and jaguars—attributed to heart attacks and kidney failure. From 2018 to 2023, a notable number of these majestic animals succumbed to serious diseases, including respiratory and lung conditions.
Data reveals a distressing trend, with 10 out of 13 big cats meeting unfortunate ends due to severe ailments like heart and kidney failure. The mortality report from the National Zoological Park sheds light on specific cases, such as Bengal tigers succumbing to old age and a male Bengal tiger falling prey to lung failure from incurable injuries.
Notably, the highest number of deaths occurred in 2020-21, including a female lion’s Acute Cardiac Failure, a male Bengal tiger’s chronic kidney disease, and two young female white tigers succumbing to AKD. The following years continued the worrisome pattern, with deaths due to kidney failure, old age, and even cardiac failure.
Despite an average of 252 annual wild animal births, primarily deer and nilgai, the zoo recorded an unsettling average of 149.2 wild animal deaths per year over the past five years. This raises questions about the overall well-being of the zoo’s wildlife.
Wildlife experts point to potential negligence, citing lapses in adhering to regulations, particularly in the testing of meat and chicken provided to the animals. These incidents, categorized as food irregularities and management issues, warrant thorough investigation.
A significant factor contributing to the escalating mortality rate is attributed to insufficient care, compounded by the presence of untrained staff—particularly concerning in the care of the Big Cat species. This issue has prompted legal action, with over 80 percent of assistant positions remaining vacant without permanent appointments for more than three years.
This alarming situation emphasizes the urgent need for a comprehensive review and action plan to ensure the well-being and longevity of Delhi Zoo’s diverse wildlife population.