Special measures help rescued elephants, bears beat the summer heat

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The continuing heatwave is taking a heavy toll on humans and animals alike in Agra region, with mercury refusing to come down below the 40-degree Celsius mark.

In fact, the temperature has continued to hover around the 44-degree Celsius mark, causing discomfort and leading to shortage of water.

However, the wild animals seem to luckier with the Wildlife SOS, an NGO, taking unique measures to ensure the elephants and sloth bears under its care do not lose their cool and remain hydrated in this unbearable hot weather.

For the elephants and sloth bears, the NGO has made elaborate arrangements this summer.

Water pools are available in every enclosure for the animals to swim in and cool off along with water sprinklers that help soften the ground and create cool zones inside their free-ranging enclosures.

On the NGO’s Elephant Conservation and Care Centre campus in Mathura, all 29 resident pachyderms are being given refreshing scrub baths every morning. They also have access to jumbo pools in their spacious enclosures.

While the older elephants prefer spending hours simply relaxing in the cool refreshing water, some of the younger, more playful ones like Peanut, Coconut, Laxmi and Chanchal enjoy splashing around in the pool.

The elephants also enjoy taking dust baths and throwing mud on their backs during the day. This acts as natural sunscreen and protects their skin from the harsh sun.

At the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, the world’s largest sloth bear rescue and rehabilitation centre, resident bears relish platters of refreshing summer fruits and popsicles which have delicious pieces of juicy fruits frozen in blocks of ice to help them beat the heat.

These specially-designed enrichments also provide much-needed mental and physical stimulation.

The bears are also given vitamin and electrolyte supplements in their daily porridge and also in the drinking water to ensure they stay hydrated. In addition, individual bear dens have designated coolers that blow cool air.

S. Ilayaraja, Deputy Director (veterinary services), Wildlife SOS, said, “Our primary aim with these summer management measures is to benefit the elephants and bears under our care. We have provided sufficient shade and adequate water in all the enclosures. Special dietary arrangements have also been made and we are including vitamin supplements and electrolyte solutions to prevent heat strokes and dehydration.”

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS, said, “It is reassuring to see that our efforts have brought a positive change in the lives of our rescued animals. Our dedicated team of veterinarians and animal care-givers work round-the-clock to ensure that the elephants and bears are able to stay cool during summers.”

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