Lanka-born anacondas enthral zoo-goers in Mysuru | Sunday Observer

Lanka-born anacondas enthral zoo-goers in Mysuru

As part of an exchange program, the National Zoological Gardens, Dehiwela has given two four year old anacondas to the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysuru. According to the Times of India, C Ravishankar, the Executive Director of the Zoo has mentioned that the anacondas were flown into the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, and then brought to Mysuru by road.

“Green anacondas from the Sri Lanka National Zoo have made the Mysuru zoo their new home. For the second time in a span of seven years, the Sri Lankan zoo has given the Mysuru zoo the reptiles – once as a gift and now as part of an animal exchange program. Of the six anacondas, two arrived via Bengaluru and the zoo veterinarians have housed them in a quarantined enclosure. The anacondas, aged four years and 8 months, weigh up to 15 kg and are up to 6 to 8 feet long. They are in stable and good health,” says C. Ravishankar.

The Director General of the National Zoological Gardens, Dammika Malsinghe speaking to the Sunday Observer said, they engage in exchange programs with several other zoos around the world in order to widen exposure to animals and create awareness on their importance.

“We have a breeding pair of Anacondas at the National Zoological Gardens, Dehiwela. Recently many baby anacondas were born in the Dehiwela zoo so we agreed to give six of them to the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysuru and in return they agreed to give us four blackbucks and four neelgais,” she said.

Malsinghe said, they exchange the animals they have in excess at the beginning of each year. “Currently, there are a few in confinement. Anacondas give birth to more than 10 babies at once. Usually, when the animals are in excess, we give them out to other countries and request new animals from them. We list the animals we have in excess and circulate it at the beginning of the year. We select the animals according to our needs and negotiate with the other zoos,” she added.

“We look into opportunities to exchange and circulate the animals. We gave two anacondas, a male and a female measuring 8 feet in length to the Mysuru zoo recently. We will be sending the other four anacondas to them after they are delivered. Many new baby animals were born in the Dehiwela zoo recently. We have sent anacondas to other countries as well, several times,” she said.

Conservation programs are mainly targeted for endemic animals. Malsinghe said, they do a lot of conservation programs, especially, for endemic animals.

The Anaconda is not a native species, but the fact that they breed here successfully shows they have adapted to the conditions in Sri Lanka.

When asked about the varieties of anacondas, she said, there are two main types of species, the Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) and the Yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus).

“We will be receiving four blackbucks from the Mysuru Zoo, two males and two female – and four neelgais, also two males and two female, in exchange for the anaconda. We have not received them yet, as it is in the processing stage. The Mysuru Zoo has to obtain a licence from the Department of Wildlife and Conservation, and the Department of Animal Production and Health, Sri Lanka. The quarantining has to be done in order to prevent the spread of diseases,” she said.

Malsinghe said, at present they are making conservation centres. “We selected some endangered species in order to enrich the natural habitat. We collaborate with many foreign zoos such as, in Japan, the Czech Republic, Russia and India. We make contact with foreign zoos as they are important for maintaining biodiversity and stopping the extinction of animal species. It helps in conservation and many animals such as the Arabian Oryx were saved from extinction,” she said.

Boa family

“The Zoological Department is under a master plan. The Pinnawala Zoo, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, the Ridiyagama Safari Park and the Horana Farm are undergoing a remodeling process. We will be demolishing particular areas and making a free-roaming area for the animals.

We have decided to free the elephants during daytime and help them stay together. The Pinnawala Zoo is conducting many educational programs. Several universities are invited to do research. The income from visitors is our main source of income so we are in the process of refurbishing all areas under the Zoological Department and make them more welcoming,” she added.

A member of the boa family, South America’s green anaconda is, pound for pound, the largest snake in the world.

Its cousin, the reticulated python, can reach slightly greater lengths, but the enormous girth of the anaconda makes it almost twice as heavy.

Green anacondas can grow to nearly 9 metres, weigh more than 250 kg, and measure more than 30 cm in diameter. Females are significantly larger than males.

The largest anaconda accurately measured was 11 metres long, though there are unverified reports of even longer Anacondas. Other species, all from South America and smaller than the green anaconda, are the yellow, dark-spotted, and Bolivian varieties.

Anacondas live in swamps, marshes, and slow-moving streams, mainly in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Orinoco basins. They are cumbersome on land, but stealthy and sleek in the water.

Their eyes and nasal openings are on top of their heads, allowing them to lay in wait for prey while remaining nearly completely submerged. The hit movie “Anaconda” starring Jennifer Lopez did raise awareness about the creatures, but its portrayal of Anacondas who actively hunt for human prey was rather off the mark as Anacondas, like most pythons, are rather docile by nature and not very aggressive. The movie spawned two sequels which were also well received.

Diet

They reach their monumental size on a diet of wild pigs, deer, birds, turtles, capybara, caimans, and even jaguars. Anacondas are non-venomous constrictors, coiling their muscular bodies around captured prey and squeezing until the animal asphyxiates.

Jaws attached by stretchy ligaments allow them to swallow their prey whole, no matter the size and they can go weeks or months without food after a big meal.

Reproduction

Female anacondas retain their eggs and give birth to two to three dozen live young. Baby snakes are about 2 feet long when they are born and are almost immediately able to swim and hunt. Their lifespan in the wild is about ten years but like most other animals, can live much longer in captivity. Annie, a female green anaconda, lived in captivity for 32 years in South Africa, but several male anacondas had lived even longer.

Anacondas are not an endangered species, but could fall under that category if the illegal trade in Anacondas is not controlled.

Common Name: Green Anaconda

Scientific Name: Eunectes murinus

Type: Reptiles

Diet: Carnivore

Average life span in the wild: 10 years

Size: Six to nine metres

Weight: Up to 250 Kgs 

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