THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The city zoo has a new guest - a cute little African Cape Buffalo.
The mother, Lekha, had shown signs of uneasiness by evening on Tuesday. She refused to have food and was quiet all evening. By around 3.30 am on Wednesday, when all were fast asleep, Lekha began to have her labour pains.
Hearing her cry, the watchman rushed for the doctor. By the time zoo vet Dr Jacob Alexander arrived, Lekha had given birth to a male calf.
The gestation period of eleven-and-a-half months had exhausted her.
But the mother seemed to be recouping well on Wednesday morning while the Thiruvananthapuram zoo authorities were busy taking care of her third offspring.
The sad side of the story is that papa buffalo, Rajappan, was not beside his ‘family.’ He was recently shifted to the Bangalore zoo.
Even after an hour of birth, the calf failed to get up on its own as it couldn’t balance its weight on its dainty legs. Seeing this, the authorities shifted Lekha to the other side of the enclosure, to provide better care for the calf.
‘’Expecting her delivery anytime, our team, a week ago, had modified her enclosure by dividing space for Lekha and the newborn. This decision benefited us, without which we would have failed to get the calf out from its dangerous mother,’’ says Jacob. They moved the calf to a safer place and began artificial feeding.
‘’It’s in a critical condition. As it is refusing to have milk, we have started artificial feeding with infants’ milk powder, egg white, vitamin A and glucose,” says the Vet.
These hoofed mammals are one of the most dangerous. “Their hard-fused base horns are difficult even for a bullet to penetrate. It is believed that on shooting at its forehead, bullets would bounce back,” says Jacob.
The newborn is Lekha’s third calf. Kumar, a three-year-old at the zoo, was her first. ‘’She lost her second after delivery due to some complications,’’ says Zoo superintendent K Jayan.
Wednesday’s birth adds to the zoo’s Cape Buffalo population with Kumar, Lekha, Raji, and the 18-year-old Aparna, the eldest of the lot.