From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2001:
King Institute mule #291, renamed Tarun in his final days by People For Animals rescuers Prema Veeraraghavan and Shiranee Pereira, died on January 25, soon after Indian minister of state for empowerment and social justice Maneka Gandhi visited the King Institute to see for herself the conditions which allegedly caused the deaths of more than 70 of the 350 equines used in snake antivenom production during 2000. ANIMAL PEOPLE recounted the plight of the King Institute herd in “Showdown at the Not-Okay Corral,” January/February 2001, and of Tarun in particular: “An elderly mule with long hair and overgrown hooves was down and evidently unable to rise. When ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed this out to the vet, he ordered the stable hand to make the mule rise. The stable hand pulled the mule’s tail. ANIMAL PEOPLE publisher Kim Bartlett asked him to stop, begged the vet to make him stop, and finally stopped the tail-pulling by entering the stall herself.”
Maneka Gandhi halted antivenom production at the King Institute until the institute can
meet World Health Organization production quality and animal care standards. Tarun and more than 75% of the other equines at the King Institute were more than twice the recommended ceiling age for safe use in antivenom manufacture. King Institute Employees Welfare Association secretary R. Sundararajan blamed the high death rate on the animals’ age–but inadequate food, water, and exercise, no hoof care, rough handling, allegedly excessive venom injections and serum withdrawal, and an attending veterinarian who told ANIMAL PEOPLE that equines don’t mind moldy feed because they have four stomachs all might have been contributing factors.
On February 18 the King Institute agreed to surrender the 55 remaining superannuated equines to the CPCSEA, as recommended by Madras Veterinary College dean R. Manickam, DVM. Helping with their care for the rest of their lives will be the Blue Cross of India. Blue Cross vice chair Chinny Krishna has tried to get the King Institute to meet basic equine care standards since 1964.
The Blue Cross welcomes contributions c/o 1-A Eldams Rd., Chennai 600 018, India; or