Zoos on high alert after tiger tests positive in New York

RNS: Bokaro zoo at Jawaharlal Nehru Biological Park (JNB) on high alert after a tiger in a New York zoo tasted positive of Coronavirus infection. The Zoo (JNB) is maintained by Bokaro Steel Plant (BSL) management.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Biological Park of Bokaro spread over 127 acres of land having more than 437 animals and birds with more than 75,000 trees and medicinal plants were set up on 14 January 1989 with an objective of education, conservation, captive breeding, research including entertainment.

On Monday the Central Zoo Authority issued a directive to all the zoos across the country to keep a 24×7 watch on animals through CCTV and report any abnormal behaviour amid reports of the spread of the Coronavirus from humans to animals, informed a zoo authority.

The Centre also issued an alert across for national parks of the country to step up vigil to stop the spread of COVID-19 among wild animals, he said.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests also issued directives to national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves to reduce the human-wildlife interface and restrict the movement of people as part of preventive measures to stop the spread of the virus.

The Central Zoo Authority said mammals, especially cats, ferrets and primates, need to be carefully monitored and fortnightly samples of suspected cases should be sent to designated animal health institutes for COVID-19 testing, stated in the directive. “Sick animals should be isolated and quarantined,” it added.

The samples can be sent to the National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease in Bhopal, the National Research Centre on Equines in Haryana’s Hisar and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, it stated.

It further instructed that no keeper at any zoo should be permitted to be in close proximity to the animals without wearing personal protective equipment and should maintain minimal contact with animals while feeding them.

All zoos are to follow the bio-containment and safety measures to contain the spread of the virus as per the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, the letter said.

“Zoos are advised to coordinate with designated nodal agencies of the government for public health response and permit screening, testing and surveillance as and when required by the nodal agency,” authority added.

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