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Concern over fate of deer

The Deer park in Udhagamandalam has been closed to the public for over two years now. But there seems to be no solution in sight over the transfer of the 19 deer at the park to other zoos, even as concerns mount over the state of their well-being.

According to the officials, there are 15 sambar and four barking deer in the five-acre enclosure.

The management of the park was handed over to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) a few years ago, after years of neglect.

Though the living conditions of the animals have shown a marked improvement since being taken over by the MTR management, the park did not receive recognition from the Central Zoo Authority.

As a result, the park was ordered to be shut down and the animals in the enclosures were to be transferred to the Tiruchi Zoo.

Srinivas R. Reddy, Field Director of MTR, who is responsible for the management of the park, said that the deer cannot be transferred as the Tiruchi Zoo too does not have recognition from the Central Zoo Authority.

This has led to the deer having to be kept in the now permanently closed park, leading to the build up of pathogens in the enclosures.

Last year, two sambar died in the park, while officials said that the cold temperatures and other factors also meant that most newly-born fawns were not surviving their first year in the park.

Forest staff are working to ensure that the two fawns that were born in captivity and are part of the current herd, along with three pregnant survive the winter months, so that they could be transferred to another zoo in Tamil Nadu as soon as possible.

‘Transporting is tricky’

Even if the animals survive, transferring the deer to other zoos could be a problem as transporting the deer is extremely tricky, with the animals having the propensity to being easily spooked and dying of stress.

There are also concerns that the limited population of deer in the park could lead to in-breeding, further reducing the capacity of fawns to survive and thrive.

“The park has to be closed down, and we are looking at zoos that are ready to take the animals. The condition of the animals is quite good as well, but the transfer to zoos has to happen” added Mr. Srinivas R Reddy


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