Mysore/Mysuru: Following a circular from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) advising all Zoos in the country to be on high alert following a tiger at Bronx Zoo in New York, USA, testing positive for COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens (Mysuru Zoo), which is spread across 157 acres and houses more than 168 species, too is on high alert with the Zoo authorities taking precautionary steps to prevent animals from contracting the deadly virus.
The CZA circular also says, “Mammals like carnivores especially cats, ferrets and primates to be carefully monitored and fortnightly samples of suspected cases to be sent to the designated animal health institutes 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.”
As of now, safety measures such as maintaining social distancing, thermal gun screening, wearing mask and sanitising hands for all personnel attending essential services like feeding animals, cleaning animal enclosures, maintenance of gardens is in place at Mysuru Zoo and rotation method adopted to give required rest to personnel.
The Mysuru Zoo authorities are keeping a watch on carnivorous animals on 24×7 basis using CCTV cameras to keep a check for any abnormal behaviour or symptoms, not allowing animal- keepers or handlers in the vicinity without safety gears etc.
Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) Member-Secretary B.P. Ravi, speaking to Star of Mysore said that every vehicle carrying food and fodder to the animals at Zoo is being disinfected as a routine process. In the wake of COVID-19, every staff at the Zoo is instructed to wear masks and use sanitisers. He said that like in many Zoos abroad, where the animal-keepers touch the animals and hold shows, no such things take place in any Zoo in the country, but still, preventive steps are being taken.
Mysuru Zoo Executive Director Ajit M. Kulkarni said that the virus usually spreads from humans to animals and hence preventive steps are in place at the Zoo from early days. He said that every Zoo employee should walk over the disinfectant mat and then enter the Zoo premises where they are checked for body temperature.
If at all anyone is found sick, they would not be allowed to enter the Zoo premises and would be sent to hospital, Ajit Kulkarni said and added that apart from wearing masks and using sanitisers, instructions have been given to the staff to maintain social distancing.
Stating that the meat procured to feed animals is first washed in hot water, he said it would be fed only after the MCC Health Officer and Zoo Veterinarians certify that the meat is safe.
Leave with pay: The Zoo Executive Director said that a few employees coming from Nanjangud and Bannur have been given leave with pay for 15 days as a precautionary measure.
Among the 168 species, the Mysuru Zoo houses 14 tigers, three lions, 24 leopards / panthers and eight jackals.
Get your pets tested if they display abnormal behaviour
As pet dogs in Thailand and Hong Kong have tested positive for COVID-19, Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry Department Dr. S.C. Suresh has urged pet owners in Mysuru to get their pets tested if they displayed any abnormal behaviour and variation in their health condition. Speaking to SOM this morning, Dr. Suresh said that a few people who are under quarantine in the country had got their dogs and cats tested and added that a person who was infected with Coronavirus had taken his pet dog to a veterinarian in Manipal to get it tested. However, his pet dog tested negative while the owner got admitted in a Hospital. Dr. Suresh also said that there are no reports of any pet animals being tested positive for Coronavirus in India.