Pune to get a new animal transit centre

In order to provide timely and up-to-date care to sick, injured and rescued wild animals, a new animal transit center called “Viloo C Poonawalla Hospital for Wildlife” will be inaugurated at Ela Habitat, Pingori, Purandar, Taluka, Pune on September 30th. The Transit Center is a Joint Venture (JV) of the Ela Foundation and the Maharashtra Forest Service and is managed by Dr. Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman and Executive Director of the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Asha Bhong, Forest Officer of Bhor Subdivision said: “This transit center is urgently needed as there have been many incidents in Bhor where animals and birds have been found seriously injured and there is no hospital nearby. Sometimes the Forest Service gets injured Chinkara and other wild animals from areas around Purandar, Bhor and Velha and also from the outskirts of Pune. Some sustain natural injuries, while others are often hit in traffic accidents or chased by stray dogs.” The area is home to hyenas, chinkara, peacocks and owls.

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Cyrus Poonawalla said: “I am delighted to be part of this project as it is important to protect our wildlife and particularly vultures which are very important to the Parsi community. With this hospital we can continue the breeding and rescue of vultures and other wildlife locally.”

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The soon-to-be-inaugurated hospital, which includes about 10,000 square feet of cages and quarantine, was sanctioned just before the Covid-19 outbreak. The construction of the hospital was then completed with the generous support of the SII. It offers state-of-the-art diagnostic and medical care and facilities such as radiology and imaging, pathology, examination, operating room, nursing, sterilization, kitchen and food preparation, quarantine recovery and treatment (crush cages, transport cages), and rehabilitation and rewilding. The hospital has qualified veterinarians who treat wildlife. In addition, research and surveillance for zoonotic diseases will be conducted and the Wildlife Anatomy Repository will be established for teaching to both the Veterinary and Forestry Departments.

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As humans increasingly encroach on natural habitats, cases of human-animal conflict are increasing. Most wildlife lives in rural areas where there is a lack of state-of-the-art wildlife treatment. Sick and injured animals, animals with tumors and congenital defects, animals fallen in wells and trapped in snares must be transported to urban centers after rescue, increasing stress and morbidity, not to mention mortality. Fast and reliable healthcare in peripheral rural areas is vital, which is why the State Forest Service in partnership with the Ela Foundation is opening this center in rural western Maharashtra.