Goodbye to Jassi of the Byculla Zoo

The Byculla Zoo of Mumbai, India, has had its share of animal deaths over recent years and now a hippo must be added to the list.

A seven-year-old female hippopotamus named Jassi died at the Byculla zoo (also known as Jijamata Udyan) on Wednesday morning. According to the post-mortem report, she died because of a respiratory infection (pneumonia).

“Jassi died because of lungs failure,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, a zoo veterinarian. “She was unwell for the past 15 days. She had stopped eating food from November 24. We tried to feed her but her condition worsened due to non-consumption of food.”

Rahul Shevale, chairman of the BMC’s standing committee, pointed out that there is debris lying at various places in the zoo. Jassi’s death may have been caused by such unhygienic conditions. “Zoo authorities should remove the debris immediately,” he said.

The zoo is now left with only three hippopotamuses. Shakti, a five-year-old male hippopotamus, had died in April last year, also due to respiratory failure. The average life span of a hippopotamus is about 40-50 years.

Plagued with a high death rate of hippopotamuses, the zoo has stopped breeding them since 2006. “After the death of Khushi, another young female hippopotamus, we stopped breeding hippopotamuses in the zoo. Despite several attempts, Jassi could not be saved,” added Tripathi.

The doctors gave Jassi antibiotics through her food. But as she refused to eat, the medicines could not be administered. Zoo officials said that the seven-year-old hippo was also given enema to enable her excretion. Enema is a way of cleaning out the large intestine by introducing liquids in the body.

Built in 1861, the Jijamata Udyan is one of the oldest zoos in the country. The 53-acre zoo has been facing the wrath of animal activists for neglecting animals. Shiva, a 30-year-old rhinoceros, died after he failed to find a mate in the zoo. Laxmi, a 20-year-old leopard had also died in the zoo.

Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary Asia magazine, said, “The unfortunate hippo was large and so his death did not escape our attention. No one knows how many smaller animals die at Jijamata Udyan. The zoo is one of the worst-run in the world. It should have long ago been converted into a nature interpretation centre and botanical garden.”

Source: “Lungs failure kills hippo at Byculla zoo, only three left” –, Saturday, Dec 4, 2010, By Priyanka Sharma & Pandurang Mhaske