Bhubaneswar: Acting on the advisory of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) after a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, US, contracted the coronavirus (SARS CoV2), the authorities of the Nandankanan Zoological Park, on the outskirts of the Odisha capital, have stepped up measures to protect the lives of the animals in captive.
Talking to the media here on Monday, Nandankanan deputy director Jayant Das said that the coronavirus never spreads from the animals and it is most likely that the tiger at the Bronx Zoo has contracted the virus from the zookeepers.
“As a precautionary measure, the zookeepers have been provided with masks, gloves and sanitizers to protect themselves from the virus,” he added.
He also said that special care is being taken for the safety of all captive animals, especially the carnivores.
The CZA, in a letter to the chief wildlife wardens of all states and Union Territories, has told them to direct the zoo authorities to remain on highest alertness and constantly keep a watch on the animals through CCTV cameras for any abnormal behaviour and symptoms.
It has also directed the zoo authorities not to allow the zookeepers/handlers in the vicinity without safety gear preferably the personal protective equipment (PPE) and isolate and quarantine the sick animals and have the least contact while providing feed to the animals.
Apart from this, mammals like carnivores especially the cat, ferret and primates are to be carefully monitored and fortnightly samples of suspect cases should be sent to the designated animal health institutes (National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD) in Bhopal, National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE) in Haryana, Centre for Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic (CADRAD) of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, (IVRI) at Izatnagar in Uttar Pradesh) to initiate COVID-19 testing while following all bio-containment and safety measures required to handle this high-risk pathogen as per the national and ICMR guidelines.
The CZA has also asked the zoo personnel to strictly adhere to the safety and disinfection protocol issued by the Centre on COVID-19 from time to time and coordinate with designated nodal agencies of the government responsible for public health response and permit screening, testing and surveillance and diagnostic samples as and when required by the nodal agency.