Former Dubai Zoo handler dies of Covid in India

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on April 3, 2021
Supplied photo

During his tenure at the Zoo, Devadoss worked at every department and knew almost all animal care segments.

A former animal handler who spent 32 years working for Dubai Zoo has died of Covid-19 at his home in India.

Ratnasundram Devadoss, a native of Karaikal in the Union Territory of Puducherry, died due to Covid-19-related complications on March 30, his son Madhan told Khaleej Times. During his tenure at the Zoo, Devadoss worked at every department and knew almost all animal care segments, said the former head of Dubai Zoo, Dr Reza Khan.

“Das, as we fondly called him, worked with big cats, chimpanzees, gorillas, giraffes… Pretty much all the animals. He also worked as a cashier and a storekeeper at the zoo,” he added.

Madhan said his father was in the hospital bed for two weeks before his death. “In the beginning, he had symptoms like fever and throat infection. As the days passed, he got sicker. In the last few days, he struggled to breathe. Doctors tried everything, including putting him on a ventilator,” said Madhan.

A game design student, Madhan is Devadoss’s only son. His wife, Senthamarai, also survives him. “After working for 32 years, he retired from the zoo at the end of 2017. We told him to take rest, and he was enjoying his retirement life. While my father worked in Dubai, my mother and I were in India the entire time,” said Madhan.

Devadoss left Dubai shortly before Dubai Safari opened. The family had plans of coming to Dubai to meet his old colleagues, visit Dubai Safari, and see the city once. “Unfortunately, Covid-19 hit, and we thought we would wait till things got better,” said Madhan.

Former Dubai Zoo head Khan said, “Most of us knew him as Das. A few even knew that his first name is Ratnasundram.”

“I joined the Zoo in June 1989, and I think Das began working with the zoo two years before me. He was a very young man back then… he’d just gotten married when I joined.”

The zoo’s former head said Das was a pillar of support for the rest of the zookeepers and Khan’s family. “He stayed extra hours to ensure all work was completed. He was a saviour for all of us. This one time, our gorilla was misdiagnosed with TB, and we had excellent cooperation with Al Ain Zoo, and it was Das and our keepers who nursed the gorilla back to health,” he explained.

According to Khan, Das would work extra night shifts when the giraffe at the zoo got pregnant. “As a manager, I could always count on him. He was always capable of taking care of things,” said Khan.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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