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President saves a peacock

By Anjali Dhal Samanta



The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, with the peacock he saved.

NEW DELHI, JUNE 9. It is a rather unusual story. The country's First Citizen has saved the life of a special resident of Rashtrapati Bhavan — a peacock, the National Bird. Suffering from cancer, the poor little peacock would in all likelihood have died had the President not spotted it on time. And thereby hangs a touching tale.

About a week ago, while taking his daily morning walk through the majestic Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President noticed this bird with a growth around the right eye. Concerned at what he saw, Mr. Kalam asked the Veterinary Surgeon of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Y. Sudheer Kumar, to examine it. An examination revealed that the peacock was suffering from a tumour near the base of its right eyeball. "The tumour was already very big and growing. It was pressing the eyeball to one side and obliterating the peacock's vision. The tumour had also entered the buckle cavity near the mouth and the bird was unable to close its beak and was off its feed. Mr. Kalam had found the bird just in time; any more delay and it would have died of starvation. In fact, when the bird was brought to us, it was dehydrated," recalls a veterinary surgeon in the 44 Military Veterinary Hospital, where the peacock was operated upon on June 3.

In the two and a half hour surgery, the tumour — 3 cm in width and 4 cm in depth — was removed and the bird was able to close its beak. The sight in its right eye was also restored.

Within two days of the operation, the bird was returned to the lap of nature in the huge bio-diversity park on the President's Estate by Mr. Kalam himself. Though the normal post-operative care period for domesticated animals and birds is five to seven days, the peacock was returned to its natural habitat as soon as it showed signs of recovery . Keeping that in mind, the veterinary staff had also used absorbable stitches on the patient.

Though the veterinary doctors are certain that the chances of the cancerous growth returning are remote, they have sent the tumour to the laboratory for tests.

"It was most likely a benign tumour cancer and is probably not going to return, but we have sent it to the laboratory just to be on the safer side, though finding the wild bird again is a difficult task.''

According to officials at Rashtrapati Bhavan, whenever Mr. Kalam finds an injured or sick bird or animal, he sends for the veterinary staff. "This is a habit with Mr. Kalam. During his morning walks whenever he finds any wounded bird or animal, he immediately sends it to the veterinary hospital for examination. And he calls up the next day to find out how it is doing."

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