US tiger testing coronavirus positive prompts preventive measures in several zoos
New Delhi/Kolkata/Guwahati/Itanagar, Apr 6 () Alarmed by a tiger in the US testing positive for coronavirus, authorities in several zoos have initiated preventive measures to protect the big cats from the infection.
The Central Zoo Authority in Delhi on Monday asked all the zoos across the country to remain on high alert and collect samples fortnightly of suspected cases in the wake of the US incident.
CZA Member Secretary SP Yadav issued a letter to all states and union territories advising them to maintain the highest level of alertness, monitor animals on 24X7 basis using CCTVs for any abnormal behaviour or symptoms.
Acting swiftly on the advisory, officials of Alipore zoo in Kolkata, Assam state zoo in Guwahati and the Biological Park in Itanagar have enhanced regular check-ups and strict implementation of the safety norms for the tigers.
A four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia has tested positive for COVID-19 at New York's Bronx Zoo. The tiger is believed to have contracted the virus from a caretaker who was asymptomatic at the time.
Alipore Zoo director Ashis Kumar Samanta said since mid-February several precautionary measures such as regular spray of antiviral medicine inside the big cats' enclosure and in the garden have been started.
"We have laid strict safety norms for all the caretakers, doctors and other staff of the zoo," Samanta told .
Now it has been decided that tigers would be kept on a strict 24/7 observation so that in case of an adverse situation, steps can be taken as fast as possible, he said.
"Presently caretakers and doctors daily check the health condition of big cats and other animals. We have called an emergency meeting of all the staffs especially caregivers, caretakers, and doctors, so that all of them follow the safety norms of wearing masks, gloves, and sanitizers while treating the animals," he said.
Established in 1876, the Zoological Garden, Alipore, also known as Alipore Zoo, is India's oldest zoological park.
It currently houses eight tigers, four lions including two cubs, three leopards, and two jaguars, among other wild animals.
The Alipore Zoological Garden had barred entry of visitors on March 17 to avoid large gatherings.
In Guwahati, minister Parimal Suklabaidya said, "Many steps have been taken in the zoo to protect the animals against COVID-19. The zoo was closed for visitors since March 16. No one except ration suppliers are allowed to enter or exit the compound."
All the people or materials entering the zoo complex are fully sanitised with disinfectant and are provided with masks as well as sanitisers, he added.
"The zoo campus, including animal cages and enclosures, is fully sanitised and disinfected using a strong virucidal 'Virkon S' regularly. We are taking all precautions to protect our animal inmates," Suklabaidya told .
The Assam state zoo in Guwahati includes a botanical garden and spreads over 175 acres. Established in 1957, the zoo comprises 112 species varied flora and fauna.
Authorities of Itanagar based Biological Park said adequate preventive measures are being taken to protect the nine big cats housed there.
"With report of coronavirus spreading among the inmates of the zoo in the USA, we are taking extra care for the big cats.
"All the food for the carnivorous animals which are being supplied from Assam, are being properly treated before feeding the animals and even the vehicles are sanitized thoroughly," Park' curator Raya Flago told .
He said since the implementation of the lockdown, the zoo authority imposed restrictions on the movement of all the staff as they are not allowed to go out of the park.
"We have also made it mandatory for the staff of the park to wear masks and other protective equipment while feeding the inmates of the zoo," Flago added.
The Biological Park Itanagar has six tigers, three leopards and 12 leopard cats including nine jackals among the carnivorous species besides various herbivorous species."The zoo authority vaccinated all the animals every six months and even vaccinated all domestic animals in the fringe area of the park once in every year free of cost," Flago added. GVS PNT TR UPL SNS ABHABHABH
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