BHUBANESWAR: The Nandankanan Zoological Park here is on high alert after Asiatic lions tested positive for Covid-19 in Hyderabad and Etawah zoos.
The protocols issued by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) are being followed strictly.
Zoo deputy director Bimal Prasanna Acharya said the zoo has around 100 animals of 20 species including 26 tigers, 17 lions as well as a number of Himalayan bears, jackals+ and civets vulnerable to Covid infection.
“The situation has so far remained normal and there has been no symptom in any of the inmates. However, all precautionary measures are in place to protect them from contracting the infection,” Acharya said.
Death of six common palm civets due to ‘lung inflammation’ between April and May last year had sent the zoo authorities into a tizzy forcing them to seek Covid test of the mammals.
The samples, however, tested negative. However, the zoo authorities are on alert this time after eight lions in Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad and two big cats in Etawah Lion Safari were tested positive.
“A team of four veterinary doctors and other staff are regularly monitoring the health condition of the animals. The experts of Centre for Wildlife Health (CWH) in OUAT, Bhubaneswar are also helping in this regard,” Acharya said.
Those tested negative for Covid are being allowed inside the enclosures. Zoo has also mandated thermal screening of all the staff and zoo keepers.
“The animal caretakers are also required to wear mask, gloves, gum boots and use sanitiser before moving into the enclosure to clean it or give food to the animals,” he said.
“More precautions are taken while cleaning the enclosures and feeding chambers. The upper layer of soil is also changed on a regular interval to check spread of any kind of infection,” the deputy director said.
To dispose off the left-over food provided to animals, the zoo has made a 50-kg diesel incinerator functional from April this year.
A separate van has also been provided for the purpose. Quarantine facilities have been kept ready in the zoo. In view of the situation, the zoo has already been made out of bound for the visitors till May 15.
CWH coordinator and head of department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at OUAT Prof Niranjan Sahu said, “We are keeping a close eye on the situation and are ready to do sampling if any Covid symptom is found among the animals.”